NORFOLK, Va. — UPDATE: On September 9, the Virginia Zoo announced that a donor who gave over $2,000 to support their wildlife fund selected the name "Lovejoy," in honor of the donor’s family friend, renowned conservationist and ecologist Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy.
Author's note: The video above is about rescued beagles arriving at Virginia Beach SPCA. It aired on Aug. 5.
The Virginia Zoo needed help naming its newest infant siamang, a critically endangered ape species. To do so, the zoo held a naming auction -- and the name Lovejoy emerged victorious.
The siamang was born on June 26 to its mom, Malana, and dad, Bali. The six-week-old is bonding well with mom, reaching out with its hands and figuring out what its hands and fingers are, according to the Norfolk-based zoo.
The zoo requested gender-neutral names because the siamang hasn't undergone a neo-natal exam yet. The mom and baby haven't been separated during their natural bonding process.
Siamangs are native to the treetops in the tropical forests of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. They're considered lesser apes, not monkeys, with jet black fur.
"A siamang’s call includes 'barks and booms', and their inflatable throat sac aids in amplifying their calls," the zoo said in a news release. "Their special 'song' can be heard more than a mile away."
The species is considered critically endangered due to factors such as destruction, degradation and fragmentation of their habitats, as well as hunting of the animals for their meat in some countries, and poaching of young siamangs for sale in the illegal pet trade.
“A siamang birth is an important addition to this critically endangered lesser ape and watching a baby grow and engage with its family is special for all of us," Virginia Zoo Executive Director Greg Bockheim said in a news release.
The money raised during the auction helped the zoo's Act for Wildlife conservation fund.