Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gorillas in Communication

Gorilla moms making up? I took this picture one day shortly after Olympia was grabbing the arm of Bomassa. Olympia once took Bomassa and kept him for a full five days before zoo personnel retrieved him and returned him to his mother Jamani (right). It very much looked to me as though Olympia was trying to take that baby back again when she grabbed that arm. Jamani  at that point made quick work of putting up her own arm and batting down Olympia's.

Animal Reconciliation?
So what is going on in the photo taken just a few minutes after the rebuff? Is Olympia trying to reconcile with Jamani? The moms stood like this for quite awhile and appeared  perhaps to be rubbing each other with their heads. A long time zoo volunteer on duty that day told me he wished he could hear their sounds. Though the entire top of the enclosure is open to the elements, it is surrounded by stone walls and triple glass plexiglass windows. As a result, visitors are unable to hear the grunting and low groans and growls those gorillas make inside. Those noises give very strong clues as to what a gorilla might be feeling inside.