With colorful ice cakes and plenty of popcorn, keepers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park celebrated a special birthday over the weekend as a tiny gorilla known as the “miracle baby” turned two.
Little Joanne, a western lowland gorilla, was born to mom, Imani, through a remarkable, rare, emergency C-section on March 12, 2014. Right after her birth, Joanne – weighing just 4.6-pounds at the time – suffered complications and was treated for a collapsed lung and pneumonia, with a hard road to recovery ahead.
But, under the watchful eye of zoo keepers, Joanne recovered and was eventually able to rejoin her mother and their troop at Safari Park’s Gorilla Forest.
Today, Joanne is like any tot – playful, sprightly and sassy – and attached to her momma.
During her birthday party, Joanne was seen riding on Imani’s back, swinging from branch to branch and playing with toys.
Of course, the furry little one also enjoyed some birthday treats, including popcorn, lettuce and cakes made of ice and fruit. Keepers used chalk to write a sweet message on the rocks inside the gorilla habitat that read, "Happy Birthday Sassy Little Joanne."
Safari Park posted a short video of Joanne’s birthday on Facebook, which can be seen here or below.
Joanne is Imani’s first baby – and was the 17th gorilla to be born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which houses eight gorillas. Before Joanne, baby gorilla Monroe was born in 2011 and Frank in 2008.