Fatou celebrates her 60th birthday

The animals at the zoo have joined us in wishing Fatou – one of the two oldest female gorillas in the world – a very happy 60th birthday. Because it’s such a milestone occasion, they decided to be a bit more creative with their congratulations than the classic “Happy Birthday” or “Herzlichen Glückwunsch”. Instead, each animal’s message was written in the language of its species’ native home, highlighting the role zoo animals play as ambassadors for their wild relatives.

Common seal Molly speaks for all the German zoo animals with her wishes of “Alles Gute” (All the best). These agile marine predators live along coastlines in the northern hemisphere, including on the North Sea.

The Mediterranean (or fried egg) jellyfish are found predominantly in the Mediterranean Sea. Many languages are spoken along that coast, including Italian, Spanish, Croatian and Greek. But the language that unites all those modern tongues is Latin – the official language of Rome dominated the entire Mediterranean region during the period of the Roman Empire.

Black rhino Ine’s birthday wishes are written in Swahili, the official language of Tanzania. One of the black rhinos living in Tanzania today is, in fact, Berlin-born Zawadi, who was reintroduced to her native home in 2012 along with other black rhinos in an attempt to start a new population. Zawadi gave birth to her first calf in 2016. The domesticated Cameroon sheep come – as the name suggests – from western Africa, and are therefore expressing their birthday greetings in French.

From Africa to Asia: Our sloth bears Balou, Kaveri and Uma are native to the Indian subcontinent. As the bears have wild relations living in protected reserves across India, their birthday message is in the country’s national language Hindi. The critically endangered Ganges gharial was once found all across India and its neighbouring countries, but sightings are now almost entirely limited to the northern part of the subcontinent. Urdu is one of the most widely spoken languages in that region, so it seemed like an appropriate choice for female gharial Uma’s birthday wishes.

Nature reserves in the southernmost part of the Indian subcontinent are home to Asia’s largest land mammal, the Asian elephant. Anchali and Pang Pha are therefore using the local language of Malayalam to wish Fatou a happy birthday.

Moving further south and east, the Indonesian island of Sumatra is home to the critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. Our female orangutan Djasinga is therefore holding a happy birthday sign written in Indonesian.

If we take a leap across the Pacific, we arrive in South America – home to the wild relatives of our lowland tapirs Pablo and Maja, who are naturally giving their congratulations in Spanish. The arapaima, meanwhile, are native to the Amazon basin. As the amazing Amazon river and its tributaries flow through Brazil, these large freshwater fish are wishing Fatou a happy birthday in Portuguese.

And it’s not only Zoo Berlin inhabitants who wanted to congratulate Fatou on her special day; the sexagenarian gorilla also received plenty of well-wishes from the animals – and the keepers – at Tierpark Berlin!

We would like to say a hearty thank you to all the well-wishers, guests and employees who helped make Fatou’s birthday party such a success!

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