Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bomassa's enjoying a good meal of dried greens. Here's hoping the same (and more!) for you and yours this Thanksgiving holiday.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tormenting Big Brother

When I looked in at the zoo recently, Apollo was tormenting his brother every chance he got. Remember, the boys are only three weeks apart-yet one is the bigger and the other is the elder. The weight check at the end of October showed Apollo to be at about 21 pounds, about three pounds heavier than big brother Bomassa. Lately, Bomassa seems to cling to his mom Jamani much of the day. When Apollo comes over, Jamani patiently pushes that little squirt away! She might hold Apollo's little leg with her big hand and thus immobilize him for awhile so she and Bomassa can get just a little peace. She's a tired mom and just wants to rest! That's hard to do, when Apollo is constantly plaguing big brother.

Sometimes she even swats at Apollo to drive him away. She swatted pretty hard about eight times before Apollo ran away scared and stayed away for a long time. But then an hour later he was back to grabbing at Bomassa. Jamani had come to the sheltered window with Bomassa to curl up in the straw and have a nap. Fearless Apollo came over and picked up Bomassa's toes and started to bite them. He also would stick his nose down in Bomassa's private area. Might have been sniffing, might have been biting! Hard to tell when you can't get a good view. Olympia (Apollo's mom), meanwhile, sits unconcerned and nonchalant; she doesn't get involved in the boys' interactions at all.

Most interesting of all, the wheelbarrow pose, as seen above. Twice Jamani picked up Apollo's legs which left the one year old gorilla having to support himself on his arms. Can you see Bomassa hanging onto his mother's back, while Apollo kicks at Jamani's face? The social dynamics at the zoo lately are fascinating!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Baby Gorilla Gets Aggressive at the Zoo!

Both the gorilla brothers we write about here are little sweeties, but they are each toying around with their forays into showing their strength. Right now, it's Apollo's turn. Last time I visited, I saw him beating his chest for the first time. Bomassa had started this back in April, so it's nice to see Apollo catching up. Come to think of it, I have not seen Bomassa beating his chest much lately, and I never did see him do it proficiently. Apollo doesn't either. He just kind of throws his arms around and sometimes his big hands land on his chest, and sometimes they don't.

But now, Apollo is also coming to the glass and banging! I have seen one of the adults do this a few times. Jamani will sometimes get irritated with all the laughter and noise. In reaction, she will stand up on two legs and steady herself there for a minute or two about 15 to 20 feet away from the glass, and then CHARGE! She comes running, one arm up in the air, and gives that glass a good whack with her massive open hand. Just one. And then she goes off into the bamboo weed cover so she can find a little peace. But Apollo is now coming to the glass and pounding away with his own little oversized hand, palm open, many times in a row. This does not seem to be in answer to any provocation. Sometimes there are visitors in front of him, and sometimes there are none. He might just be experimenting and entertaining himself. When it was just me and Apollo, he was not pounding at the glass I was standing at. He was down a couple of panels, banging over there.

Much of this aggression gets pointed at big brother. Here comes Apollo now, hand raised to his brother's mother. Bomassa is hiding behind mom, so you can't see him in this shot. Jamani does not like to see Apollo getting after her son so much. She is so big, she is easily able to shoo him away. For the time being, anyway. On the other hand, Apollo still has his moments when he looks purely angelic.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Baby Gorilla Waves at the Crowd

I stopped in at the North Carolina Zoo on Friday and found Bomassa Gorilla being extra friendly with the visitors. He stood on his mom's leg and looked up at the adults and the peoplekids. Weighing in now at only about eighteen pounds,  this baby gorilla is nonetheless already stronger than the keepers. When full grown, he may be as much as five times stronger than a typical adult human male. There are plenty of theories about why our fellow apes are so much stronger than humans. One says that it might be because we devote so much of our energy and muscle architecture to fine muscle control, which apes have less need of.  Read here about how chimps would make lousy guests in a china shop and then go over and join our Facebook page for more cool articles about primates other charismatic megafauna.

Bomassa Gorilla says Hi

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Tumbling Gorilla

Here's Bomassa, rolling over and falling off his mother's back. Usually he takes a different approach to his dismount, but it's important to try new things. I wonder how his elders did it. Perhaps the exact same way. Some mannerisms do run in the families of gorillas. For example, Olympia holds her right hand up to her ear as though she is talking on a cellphone.  She does it every day, but it's not an indication of an infection or any other discernible problem. I am told that some of Olympia's relatives do the same exact thing! And speaking of relatives and other ancestors,  you can find out some information about Bomassa's grandparents and great grandparents at the Pinterest board about his lineage. We've not managed to illustrate every enchanting character in the bunch,  so by all means, if you know of photos of any of Bomassa's great or great-great-grandparents, do post a link here in the comment section and let us know where to look. We definitely need Trib and Bwana, and I am not entirely sure we have a good picture of Millie Christina yet. She was mother to the very first gorilla ever born in the US.