Koko the Gorilla calling from Lower Heaven is my favorite bit on radio. But regardless of the humor, it got me thinking about gorilla safaris and how to enjoy them. Here is what I learned.
As you may know, gorillas are primates that currently have their existence threatened. What is left of the gorilla population lives in African countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
And zoos of course in the United States and around the world.
Gorillas don’t swing around on trees. They are the largest primates on earth, and there are three main kinds of gorillas:
- Eastern Lowland Gorillas – found in the Congo
- Western Lowland Gorillas – found in West Africa. Koko was a Western Lowland Gorilla
- Mountain Gorillas – found in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Congo
Gorillas are the second most endangered species on earth. There are currently about 100,000 gorillas left on earth, with most of them being Western Lowlands. There are no Mountain Gorillas that live outside of their native mountain forest homeland. It is against international law to capture or kill a gorilla.
Gorillas like to live in groups and families, and they do not have territorial boundaries. The typical family stays within the same 10 or so square miles.
In the gorillas community, the females are the ones that decide who gets to join their group, and who has to stay away. Want to know how they decide who stays and who goes? Well, if the females in the group don’t want a gorilla to join, they just scratch the applicant in the face. Fun, huh? Makes those letters from companies that didn’t hire me feel like Christmas presents.
On the other side of things, if a female decides to leave a group because she’s not feeling the vibe of her current group, she can’t just leave because she wants to. If the other females want her to stay, they will grab her by the legs and make her stay. So much for choice.
As for height, adult gorillas can be up to 7 feet tall with a wingspan of 8 feet.
When you are that big, you kind of eat anything you want. However, gorillas tend to be plant eaters. They like to eat stems, roots, leaves, flowers, and bamboo.
Many gorillas love celery. Not sure about the peanut butter or ranch dressing. Gorillas have huge back teeth to help grind the foliage that they munch on.
In many ways, gorillas are like humans, and their personality is no exception. They can get bored, annoyed, excited, scared, worried, loving, and friendly. They are also judges of character. If a gorillas doesn’t think you’re friendly, it will be tougher to make friends with it.
Gorillas have their own way of communicating.
- Stomach rumbling means they are content
- “Pig” grunts mean they are complaining or disciplining
- Roars and screams are when they are threatened
- They give out an odor when they are scared
One of the biggest threats to gorillas survival is the civil wars that have plagued Africa. These wars have resulted in loss and reduction of habitat. In addition poachers will use their meat for food and sale.
Despite these challenges, gorillas have a world community that loves them because of their great personality and majesty. There is a lot of conservation activity that helps keep them around and alive.
Koko the Gorilla was a great ambassador for the gorilla community!