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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Olympia Gorilla Throws a Punch

Friction Among the Gorillas Last Week

I am not sure what was going on, but Olympia, the dominant female gorilla at the North Carolina Zoo was ultra testy last time I visited. More than a few times, she approached adult female Jamani in a threatening way. And what does that mean for gorillas? 

Olympia right, Jamani left, with Bomassa on her back
When gorillas go on the rampage, they bare their teeth and they charge, but they don't necessarily engage for much contact. Here you can see that as Olympia throws a punch at Jamani, she is not even looking at her target. And then, just as quickly as she started, she is done, and running past. The goal seems to be to show displeasure, but not to get involved in a huge battle. 

Olympia left, Jamani right, Bomassa on her back
What could be the problem? You can see that Bomassa is right there on his mom's back, and that Apollo is right at the base of his mother's feet. As far as I could tell, the only times that Olympia was going after Jamani were times at which Apollo was hanging out nearby Jamani and Bomassa.  I wonder what it's like to be a little boy gorilla clinging to a mother in the midst of defending herself!