Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gorillas in Houston!

They're back!  After a long 'gorilla-drought' in Houston, we finally have not 1 but 2 troops calling our zoo home.  Y'all, this makes me so happy!

When I was little, we had one male gorilla who lived inside with some smaller primates at the Houston Zoo.  It was tragically sad and so unauthentic.  I was intrigued by gorillas, but I didn't enjoy visiting that exhibit.  Thankfully the Houston Zoo has undergone incredible renovations and thought processes about animal care and treatment in the last 20 years.  For the last several years, the zoo staff worked tirelessly to fundraise, design, and plan the state-of-the-art gorilla exhibit that now dwells in the middle of Houston's Med Center.  It's incredible!

We went to visit our two troops (one of single males and one of a family...but Daddy can't bread, so no babies for now) and introduce Man Cub to an animal he won't see in Zambia.  For over a year, we've watched the gorilla viewing areas be built, and the excitement was in the air as we dashed our way back to the African forest.  We were greeted by huge wooden doors and a thatch roof that reminded me so much of central Africa.  Inside was wall to wall windows that looked out over a river bed where red river hogs were snacking on breakfast.  A glimpse of a young male let us know that the boys were in the yard that day, and we quickly wound our way to the tree top overlook to find all three of the big guy.  Breakfast is exciting, y'all!  They were foraging all over to find their banana leaves and fresh produce.  They were close enough to make eye contact, and I can't help but wonder what they think of their new visitors.  Zoo staff reports that they enjoy watching the life fight helicopters that buzz overhead, so of course I want to know what they think about the people who are now seeing them after they've spent the last 4 months settling into their home.

As we joined the main path back to the chimp exhibit, we were welcomed into the viewing area that shows the day room for the troop that is currently staying inside.  Mulch covers the floor, and huge, realistic trees tower throughout the room for the gorillas enjoyment.  Enrichment toys, food puzzles, and hammocks rounded out the area.  Secretly, I wanted to go climb and play.  It reminded me of the glory days of Leaps 'n Bounds and Discovery Zone from my childhood!

The zoo staff has worked wonders for our new gorillas.  Man Cub was incredibly intrigued by the grey giants, and I'm looking forward to many hours spent learning about them and getting to know them.  God never ceases to amaze me with His creation!


Laura Darling said...

This is awesome! SO glad they're back and doing well!

Candace Shiflet said...

this is SO COOL!!!!!! and of course I love the zoo and I'm jealous you have these gorillas there!! so dang cool. and how fun for your son to get to go see them and the chimps!
xo, Candace | Lovely Little Rants

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