Cleveland MetroParks Zoo and CrossCountry Mortgage reveal name of first Cleveland-born gorilla

“Baby G” gorilla with Freddie at the PCA building on January 12, 2022 at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. (Kyle Lanzer/Cleveland Metroparks)

“Kayembe” (Kah-YEM-Bay), meaning “extraordinary,” is the name of the baby gorilla born October 26 at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Zoo and Cleveland-based CrossCountry Mortgage (CCM) today revealed the name following a three-week naming campaign in support of gorilla conservation through the Zoo’s longtime partnership with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. “Kayembe” made history as the first gorilla born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in its 139 years.

The naming campaign received over 600 donations, raising nearly $15,000 for the Fossey Fund in Rwanda. Named after conservation pioneer Dian Fossey, the Fossey Fund has been saving gorillas for more than 50 years.

“Kayembe has captured the hearts of so many with his extraordinary birth and story,” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. “The naming opportunity with CrossCountry Mortgage was our most popular naming campaign yet and will support critical conservation of this iconic species.”

Social media videos help tell baby gorilla’s story

An exclusive social media video series created in partnership with CrossCountry Mortgage continues to follow the baby’s growth and development and has received more than 850,000 views. At nearly four months old, Kayembe continues to be in nearly constant contact with surrogate mom, Freddy. He recently reached a new developmental milestone when he began crawling and exploring his habitat within a few feet of mom.

“We are thrilled that friends of the Zoo nationwide have embraced this important new member of the Northeast Ohio community,” said Laura Soave, Chief Brand Officer for CCM. “Kayembe is truly extraordinary in every respect, and we are enjoying the opportunity to follow his growth and development.”

Guests visiting Cleveland Metroparks Zoo can visit Kayembe and the gorilla troop at the Primate, Cat & Aquatics building daily between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

About CrossCountry Mortgage

CrossCountry Mortgage, LLC is a top 10 retail mortgage lender in America, founded in 2003 by CEO Ronald J. Leonhardt, Jr. The company has more than 7,600 employees and licenses in all 50 states. A direct lender and approved seller and servicer by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae, CCM offers a broad portfolio of home purchase and refinance programs ranging from conventional and jumbo mortgages to government-insured programs for Veterans and rural homebuyers. Additional options include down payment assistance, home equity products, and expedited closing programs. CrossCountry Mortgage is on the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies and a recipient of several other local and national awards for sales and growth. For more information, please visit

About Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a nationally-recognized leader among zoos and aquariums in North America with over 2,000 animals across 400 species from around the world. The Zoo specializes in animal care, education and research and is certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Visit for more information.

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