More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

#DisneyMagicMoments: Wish Grace from the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Gorilla Family a Happy 1st Birthday!

Dr. Mark Penning

by , Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

Every mom cherishes her child’s first birthday, so with Mother’s Day approaching this weekend our team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom would like to share a recent celebration we held for Grace, a beautiful western lowland gorilla.

It was just over a year ago now that Grace was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And while the park is temporarily closed, our team was able to throw her a special princess-themed birthday party!

The team created a cardboard princess carriage attached to plastic horses by paper chains for Grace and her family to play with. There was also a cardboard castle and colorful piñata. The materials we used in the decorations are enrichment items we give the gorillas as a special treat – perfect for a birthday surprise!

Grace’s birthday “cake” was made of three layers of ice treats – blocks of ice with berries and currants for the gorillas to pick out as the ice melts. We also froze pureed sweet potatoes and kiwis and cut them into shapes for another birthday surprise.

Grace was born May 1, 2019, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to mother Kashata and father Gino, who were selected to breed as part of the Species Survival Plan overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The plan ensures responsible breeding of endangered species so they will have healthy, genetically diverse populations for years to come.

Grace is named after the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE), a gorilla sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is dedicated to helping gorillas orphaned by poaching. Our animal care experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom have spent more than a decade helping the GRACE team and local community rehabilitate orphan gorillas and protect the species in the wild.

We’re thrilled to watch Grace every day as she matures and develops magnificent new skills. She likes walking upright and hanging upside down, for example. She’s also very energetic, inquisitive and social, and loves to play – especially with her three older siblings.

It was a wonderful time celebrating Grace’s big day, and we’re looking forward to the time you can come see her and her family again on the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! 


  • My husband and I came down to see baby Grace back in July 2019 and I fell in love INSTANTLY with her!!! Can’t believe it’s already been a year….she’s just as cute as the day we met her for the first time and can’t wait to see her when we get back down there again, hopefully later on this year when the parks finally open up again and it’s safe. Happy birthday sweet baby girl!!!!! 🎂👸🏼🐒

  • Happy birthday, little one.
    I have photos of your mommy nursing you when you were maybe only a few weeks old.
    How fast the year has flown.

  • Thank you to the Walt Disney Company for all you do to protect and conserve vulnerable species around the world.

  • When she was born I told my husband Disney’s Animal Kingdom must be calling me because my name is Grace!!! We haven’t been there yet to meet her, but I can’t wait for our next trip so I can meet her!! 💝🎂. Happy Birthday Sweet Baby Girl!!!

  • Grace is sooo cute looks like she had a spectacular first birthday! Disney, thank you for making the best out of a bad situation. Thank you

  • Grace has really grown and is as beautiful as ever. Looks like she had a very happy birthday. Thank all of you at Disney for what you do!

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