Gorillas In My Midst

In Texas, twenty percent of our enormous Barnes and Noble has been allocated to Christian Studies and Bibles and nothing opens until noon on Sunday because everyone is at church. And, you can’t buy alcohol until noon on Sundays because you should be in church, too, not out buying booze. The ironic thing is, on early Sunday afternoons every restaurant is packed to the brim with people drinking Mimosas, Grasshoppers, Bloody Mary’s or white wine.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, there was this guy at the zoo where I volunteer and he and I were observing Gorillas together. At the Dallas zoo you can be 1 inch away from a 425 pound Gorilla. There are 3 layers of treated glass between you and him but you can stare into his eyes and he can stare into yours.

More dramatic than that, the big boys often get annoyed but mostly show-offy and will “display” which includes running up and back by the glass, pulling branches off trees and waving them, chasing each other, throwing rocks, pounding their chests, and my favorite, turning toward the crowd suddenly, rushing to the glass quickly, then aggressively pounding on it. It is so alarming that every human instinctually vocalizes in some way and jumps back. Even me, and I’m used to it.

“So,” I said to this guy, who was clearly fascinated with gorillas, “according to the Smithsonian Institute their DNA is 98.4 the same as ours.”
“I know,” he said.
I went on, “They have the opposing forefinger/thumb relationship; it’s like they have four hands. They can do anything with their feet that they can do with their hands. You can actually consider their feet superior to ours.”
“It’s amazing,” he said.
“They don’t like deep water; they are so densely muscular that they would sink and drown and they instinctively know that.” I continued.
“I didn’t know that,” he said.
“Yeah, and unlike how they are portrayed in movies, these guys are very gentle, peaceful animals. Chimpanzees are far more aggressive by nature than Gorillas.” I said. “Do you know that gorillas laugh?”
“They do?” he looked surprised.
“Yes,” I said, “I observed them in the rain for the first time the other day and they were chasing each other, lumbering in a bipedal position in what looked like avoiding getting their knuckles muddy, banging each other on the head and laughing. It was magical. I did some primatology research and they do indeed laugh. They also cry when they are sad.”

He suddenly looked sullen and glanced around cautiously.
Then, very quietly he turned to me, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m the only one in Texas who believes in evolution.”
I paused in astonishment. I was so new to Texas. I took a minute to think.
“No, sir.” I finally said, “There are two.”



B'Wenzi and Shauna

B’Wenzi and Shauna

The buddies laughing and playing.

The buddies laughing and playing.

Wow, that was exhausting.

Wow, that was exhausting.

17 thoughts on “Gorillas In My Midst

    • Olive! My new friend! I’m so happy to hear you! Thanks for reading my post. Can’t wait to see you on the court soon! Gosh, I’ve been so busy at the zoo, I haven’t been playing much. We got a new Silverback and the primate supervisor asked is I could do behavioral observation which is intense and time consuming but i LOVE it so I did and now we have a new baby giraffe who’s debut we are waiting for.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lisa

    Shi and I had to spend an entire day at the San Diego zoo one day a few years back (for his Anthropology class…his teacher was a nutty/intelligent/eccentric guy who had been teaching there forever and he was a 100% evolutionist…so had issues with legalistic Christians in the class…he sadly died at a youngish age recently). We had a blast. We had to observe these dudes for a really long time. There was a huge Silverback who was mashed up against those several paned windows that we could cozy up with and stare into his eyes…and boy did we. We had such a blast that day. Can one be an evolutionist and still believe in God? That is the question…


  2. Thank you, Lisa. Beautiful comment. And yes, in my STRONG opinion there is no conflict between evolution and God. Some higher power/being/God/Universe obviously orchestrated this entire life thing we are living/humans AND animals….this could not be a random mistake. From an animal standpoint there is so much intense beauty, a Mandrill’s colorful face when she looks at her little baby boy, Obi at the zoo while he jumps on her head with youthful enthusiasm, the gorillas playing and laughing in the rain, the penguins all lining up and standing there for so long and then jumping in the water all at the same time, the 500 pound tiger who prefers to be alone playing with a huge work out ball in the water, the cheetah and her best friend the black labrador retriever whom she has been raised with since birth and who live together now and let zoo guests see them when they are in the mood.

    Why wouldn’t God allow evolution? It’s such a beautiful process. We share 98.4 percent of our DNA with gorillas yet we are not gorillas and gorillas are not human. In fact, science tells us that we had a common ancestor who we branched off from the gorillas and who is know extinct. Why would we not try to understand these beings as brothers and sisters? Why does that conflict with there being a God?

    I know now that I’m REALLY messing with Texas. And I’m interested in responses. Good, bad, ugly, please.


  3. Chai Fu

    Andrea, it would have been 4 people in Texas if David and I did not move away Dallas. I love those wonderful photos of B’Wenzi and Shauna. If you ever are brave enough, watch the 1988 movie “Gorillas in the mist”. It was heartbreaking but also an amazing story that needs to be told. Chai Fu


    • Hello my dear friend Chai Fu. I’m soooo happy we are four who believe. I have studied primates for 30 years just on my own with book after book and I’ve never been able to watch the Dian Fossey movie. I’m scared to death of it because I’ve read about it. But I know the horrors against animals and it appalls me. I try to be whatever advocate I can be. I have always ABHORRED the thought of being a celebrity but if I could use celebrity power to help animals I would sacrifice my privacy for my love of these beings.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How wonderful that the move to Texas included an opportunity like this as well. I don’t know what you were doing with primates (if anything) in Arizona but this sounds like an excellent place for you.


    • It is and thank you for the sediment. I was working as a tour guide at Southwest Wildlife conservation center in Scottsdale. It was amazing and I never thought I could parallel the experience but I did with the gorillas at the Dallas Zoo.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The problem is people try to fit God into their skimpy parameters. How dare they? The spirit, dare I say the Holy Spirit? is so much huger that there is no way we measlies can comprehend it so we have to watch nature and try to follow suit.


  6. Andrea Cleall

    Hey An, do you want occasional grammar corrections from the English nazi? You said a glass between you and he, it’s you and him. You can always tell whats right by eliminating one e. g. you wouldn’t say a glass in front of he.


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