Sunday, August 31, 2014

Baby Gorilla Turns Two Years Old

Happy Birthday Apollo Gorilla!

Baby gorillas look so safe and secure and warm in the arms of mother. Here's a very young (and sweet!) Apollo, as seen November 16, 2012 when he was just eleven weeks old.  He has changed so much in just two years, originally able to do little more than hang onto mom, and take care of some other essentials. Now, he is climbing up walls, swinging from branches, and chasing his big brother all over the place.

Apollo Gorilla, Born August 31, 2012

Monday, August 25, 2014

Apollo Gorilla Takes a Turn

The Puzzle of the Ring 

was too much for the boy gorillas. As we saw a few days back, the keepers had placed a ring on end of the log, way up in the air, and Bomassa tried his special method of getting the prize. Apollo wanted that ring too! So he had to take a shot and used a very different approach!  While Bomassa is the brains, Apollo is the brawn. Recall that Bomassa had carefully climbed up that log, trying to get very close to the ring, and attempting to pull it back to himself, which was not at all effective in moving that ring off the log. Apollo, being the more active, and the more willing to stretch his physical abilities, decided to jump for it!

Apollo sizes up his target and gets ready  to pounce


And  Apollo makes contact with the big black ring

A spring and a miss
No. Not happening. That ring did not come down. Apollo had thought it through very carefully, had positioned himself well, and jumped as high as his little body possibly could. He touched it! But in the end, he did not manage to budge that ring off the end of the branch. And believe me, he tried!  Again and again, Apollo went after his target, but when I finally had to go home, that ring was still on the end of the log.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Intelligence of Gorillas

Gorillas know their colors

and they can learn sign language. They can even learn to understand the names for their various body parts. But put an enticing toy ring on a tree, and you just might find gorillas completely puzzled, at least when they're only about two years old. The wondrous reality is that you can observe the gorillas using their intelligence to try to devise a way to get a toy that looks attractive. Such was the case recently when I visited Apollo and Bomassa at the North Carolina Zoo. Each day, the keepers bring in some items for enrichment, so that the animals have something new to think about, something new to touch, to carry, to play with, to fascinate them. On this day they had brought in large black plastic rings, scattering some here and there on the ground.  I would not be surprised if the keepers had tucked some food into the sides of those rings. It's entertaining for the gorillas to manipulate an object, but even moreso, if there is some food to be had in the process. But not all of the rings were within reach. The keepers had placed one ring at the end of a log, those crafty devils! And the baby boys were fascinated!  They tried and tried to get at that ring, and to knock it down.

First, Bomassa looked up at that ring for the longest time, as you see in the top photo. And then Bomassa skillfully climbed up that log, going almost out to the end, but stopping short. I thought he was going to reach his hand out and flick that toy off the tree, letting it fall below. But instead he grabbed the ring and manhandled it, trying to pull it towards himself. That did not help at all with the mission! So Bomassa climbed back down, and then Apollo copied his big brother and did exactly the same thing. And he got the same result, leaving the ring exactly where the keepers had placed it.

As you can see in the last photo, Bomassa is standing right under the ring. I wonder if this is coincidence, or if Bomassa has figured out that if that rings falls when he is there, he is going to be the one to get it, even though Apollo did the work. Anyway, the boys gave up and attended to other boy gorilla matters, such as finding some food in the brush, and checking in with their mamas now and then. But the allure proved too much, so later they tried again for the ring, using an entirely new method. All will be revealed in next week's post. If you are signed up for email, you will be the first to know! Look for the Follow By Email box over in the right hand column.

Bomassa looks wistfully at the ring on the end of the branch

Bomassa and Apollo took turns

Apollo gets close as Bomassa observes from below

Monday, August 4, 2014

Happy Birthday Bomassa!

Today, August 4, is Bomassa's second birthday. 

When he was born two years ago, the zoo and all of North Carolina rejoiced. It had been years and years since the last successful birth of a baby gorilla--since 1989 when Kwanza was born to Hope and Carlos. Fun fact, while NC Zoo was graced with two amazing boy gorillas in the same month (Bomassa and his little brother Apollo, born on the 31st), the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago had big news of their own. They greeted the arrival of two baby girl gorillas just a few months later. Patty was born in October, with Nayembi following in November.  And who was the daddy, you might ask, of these two adorable gorilla girls born only about a month apart? Why, that was Kwan, formerly known as Kwanza, who had been much loved in North Carolina.

Jamani  holding her son Bomassa. December 2012.