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Como Zoo goes bananas over ‘Gorilla Forest’ grand opening June 6

City officials plan a “gorilla marketing campaign” next week to spread the word with bananas.

Como Zoo’s newest updated attraction, Gorilla Forest, opens Thursday, and city officials say they’re conducting a “gorilla marketing campaign” to raise attention.

That means they’ll have someone dressed as a gorilla handing out bananas at lunch time Monday through Wednesday in downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis.

The $11 million exhibit will be nearly three times larger than the old gorilla area (which was famous for the 1994 escape of 400-pound Casey, who roamed the zoo grounds for 45 minutes before being tranquilized; no one was injured).

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Seven gorillas, including six that are new to Como, will live in the updated environment, which includes the largest all-mesh gorilla enclosure in North America, city officials said.

City officials say “… the new facilities will permit Como Zoo to obtain family groups of gorillas with the potential of mating these majestic endangered species.”

In addition to the expanded outdoor space, the exhibit includes a new gorilla holding building with:

“…space for a family group and a bachelor group, natural light filled, two story spaces for the animals with view windows and perches so the gorillas can see out.  The re-glazing of existing skylights will increase natural sight (as well as UV light) in the indoor habitat. Improvements to existing rock work and trees will proved more horizontal space for gorillas and planned family groups.”

There will be a short ribbon-cutting program at the zoo at 9:45 a.m. Thursday.