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Zoo Animals Get Their Greens for Saint Patrick’s Day


Mandara, a 26-year-old female western lowland gorilla and her two-month old daughter, enjoyed the St. Patrick Day festivities. Mandara is eating a lime and honeydew melon kabob that she found in her goodie bag. The public can vote to name the baby gorilla on the Zoo’s Web site.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo photo by Mehgan Murphy

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., arranged a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration today for the zoo’s gorillas and orangutans with an “all-green” party at the Great Ape House.

In keeping with a “green” theme, all the food served at the party to the gorillas and orangutans was green, the Zoo said. Foods included green fruitsicles, lime and honeydew melon kabobs, green jello, broccoli forage, and shamrock wall paintings made of rice cereal.

“Additionally, the keepers painted St. Patrick’s Day decorations on brown paper bags that were filled with hay and goodies,” the Zoo said in a statement.

The animals obviously would not have any concept of St Patrick’s Day–something they have in common with perhaps most of the human primates walking around in green and drinking green beer on this day. But a lot can be said for the imagination of the National Zoo’s animal keepers for making their jobs and the lives of the animals they look after as enriched and fun as possible.

Seven western lowland gorillas live in one group at the National Zoo’s Great Ape House, including their newest resident, a female baby gorilla born on January 10, 2009. Four Sumatran-Bornean hybrid orangutans and two Bornean orangutans live in a separate exhibit at the Great Ape House.


Baraka, a 16-year-old silverback western lowland gorilla, eats rice cereal used to paint a shamrock on the wall.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo photo by Mehgan Murphy 


Iris, a 21-year-old Sumatran-Bornean hybrid orangutan, relaxes next to the green waterfall and pool on St. Patrick’s Day at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo photo by Mehgan Murphy