June 22, 2009

More Baby Gorillas Baptized In Rwanda

Eighteen baby mountain gorillas have been "baptized" at an annual event in Rwanda to signify the seriousness of the endangerment of the species. 

However, the baby gorillas were not physically at the event, which was held at a national park where the primates live.

There were 18 masked people that represented the gorillas at the event, which included songs and dances and was attended by senior government officials like Prime Minister Bernard Makuza.

Monique Nsanzabaganwa, a Tourism Minister, said that the park would be expanded by the government 10 percent by the end of this year, in hopes of promoting the conservation of the gorilla species.

"This campaign is to encourage gorilla conservation initiatives and to promote the local tourism industry," she said.

"Tourism remains one of Rwanda's key sectors," she added.

According to AFP, this was the fifth ceremony so far in Rwanda and there have been a total of 103 gorillas that have officially received names and been baptized.

The world's last mountain gorillas are found in a mountain range between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

According to the United Nations Environment Program, there are about 700 of the gorillas in total.