I was in the Gorilla Research Station observing two male gorillas, Shauna at 400 pounds and Juba at 430. Shauna and Juba live together in a beautiful habitat with two other male gorillas in what is called a Bachelor Group. The living arrangement is unlike the normal Gorilla Troop consisting of one silverback male, several females and all of their offspring.
Today Juba and Shauna were pacing, playing rough and agitated and I knew why. In an adjacent habitat there is a troop and it’s silverback, Subira had just returned from a long stay at the zoo hospital. While Juba and Shauna will never be in the same habitat as Subira, they can smell him and a natural competition arises. Juba suddenly pounded on the metal wall separating the two gorilla habitats making a deafening sound and then charged up the hill with Shauna close behind.
Just then a three year old boy ran up to the glass, pointed with his thumb at the apes and said, “I’m gonna go in der and wrestle with dem!” I smiled and glanced at mom and grandmom who giggled.
“Really!?” I said to the boy. “Who do you think will win?”
There was a long pause as he watched the gorillas. He finally pointed with his thumb again.
“Dem!” he said.