North Carolina Zoo Announces Baby Chimp's Name

The North Carolina Zoo recently asked the public to help name its newest family member -- a baby boy chimpanzee born Monday, March 18.

The winning name chosen was “Obi” O through an online poll on the Zoo’s website. Obi is a word of Nigerian origin meaning “one who charms others; heart.”

His name was revealed Tuesday morning at the chimp’s habitat. A banner with the winning name was printed on non-toxic paper and hidden under several layers of browse – branches and leaves – so the chimp troop could ‘unveil’ the banner on the habitat.

However, in true sibling fashion, Obi’s older sister Genie decided to tear apart the banner and run around the habitat with the pieces. Luckily, the zookeepers captured an image of it before the chimps were out on habitat that morning.

Susi Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources, announced the naming contest during a special event at the Zoo Friday, April 12 as she officially opened the Zoo’s 2019 spring season.

This birth is significant because there have only been two other successful chimp births at Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited zoos in the past two years. The Zoo’s chimpanzee troop is one of the larger troops in AZA zoos in the United States.

The selection of other names to vote on were: 

Ayo (eye-oh): word of the Yoruba people for “full of joy or happiness”
Kojo: word from Ghana meaning “born on Monday”
Masaka: large town in Uganda

Chimpanzees are listed as endangered in the wild. The North Carolina Zoo is actively involved in wild chimpanzee conservation in Uganda’s Kibale National Park, which boasts the largest chimpanzee population in East Africa.