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Monday, July 29, 2013

North Carolina's Cutest Tourist Attraction

If you're on your way to North Carolina any time soon, you absolutely have to stop and see our baby gorillas! Our young boys Apollo and Bomassa are ever so fun to watch now that they're learning to climb. They are getting up sky high now. What you can't tell from this pic, is that Bomassa is hanging from the highest platform on the structure in the middle of the exhibit. The one everyone calls the tree. Scroll down to get an idea of the height of the tree.



Apollo is always struggling to keep up with Bomassa. Big brother is more daring, a little stronger, and definitely more adept and confident. That's why you see Bomassa way up high, and Apollo trying to follow! Apollo never did join his brother on those top branches. He's still timid yet.


Bomassa has been practicing climbing for ages, because his mother has allowed him the freedom. Reports from behind the scenes indicate that when mother and son are in their private quarters, Jamani is happy to let Bomassa climb on his own. She has blessed this activity for many months now, and he has gotten very strong. It used to be that when the gorillas would come out in the mornings, Bomassa would settle in to nurse from his mama and would go right to sleep. He'd be exhausted after a hard morning of climbing.


Jamani does not always stay right with Bomassa as he perches precariously atop the structure. Here above, he finds it convenient to put his foot on her face as he tries to stabilize himself.   You can see the entire tree below. I am guessing the very tops of the tree are a good 12 to 15 feet off the ground.

Bomassa does go up to the very top! I  don't think you would find too many people-moms letting their tiny tots climb up that high. But gorillas have special skills, uncommon strength, very long arms, and gigantic hands with lengthy fingers.  Besides, gorilla feet are shaped so as to function as an extra pair of hands, capable of grabbing on.



It can be scary to watch. But  Bomassa has it under control. Though strongly motivated he is very tentative. He inches along, little by little, grabbing one handhold and not letting go until he knows he's secure.


Below he's attached only at one point of contact and searches very carefully for another before he lets go.

When Bomassa summits Mount Tree, he hangs out where his mom is resting.


But that is not his goal so he does not stay long. Below you see our young blackback first put one foot down on the branch, and then he just lifts his last foot off the platform and gingerly moves forward. He is learning all about how long his limbs are, and what he's capable of. It's exciting to watch him discover his abilities! And yeah, that's his mom yawning in the photo immediately below. You can just barely see her open mouth on the right. She's not worried.  She believes in her son!