Nkosi is totally in charge of his troop, which consists now of three females and two young babies. He always looking out for the members of the troop; volunteers tell me that when Olympia starts to get sticky fingers, he comes over and beats his chest, at which point she gets in line pretty quick and takes her hands off Baby Bomassa. That's a scary sound, that chest beating, but I've never personally seen Nkosi be aggressive. As a matter of fact, the last time I visited, Nkosi headed over to Olympia and sat down right in front of her, tenderly encircling her with his massive furry arms. Olympia had little Apollo clinging to her back at the time; Nkosi spent the next fifteen minutes or so nuzzling that tiny son of his with his nose.
That all happened on the same day when I had scared Nkosi by accident. No one was at the window when I arrived. I had approached very quickly, eager to see the troop once again. Nick, as they call him, looked at me and jumped when I suddenly appeared! Next time, of course, I will enter more gingerly. Poor guy, I did not mean to scare the biggest gorilla in the zoo. That magnificent silverback has a lovely disposition though, and calmed down immediately when he took stock of the fact that it was just me, a friendly visitor. Gorillas, big and muscular though they are, seem to be more bark than bite. The leader of a gorilla troop will most definitely charge, attack, and bite when he feels his troop is threatened, but by and large a silverback is a peaceful vegetarian, just like the rest of the gorillas.
|Nkosi sauntering along next to Olympia, Baby Apollo on her back|