Today I was at the zoo with my beloved Western Lowland Gorillas speaking to zoo guests about them. I have become an amateur expert on these gorgeous apes and almost nothing makes me happier than to be in their presence educating the public about their intelligence, behavior and endangered status. (94,000 Western Lowland Gorillas left in the world. 300 Mountain Gorillas left in the world! 300!!) Juba, a 420 pound boy knows my face and sometimes gives me little kisses from behind the three layers of glass that separate us.
The gorilla habitat is one acre and today at midmorning I could not see one gorilla from the Gorilla Research Station or from any other outdoor viewing deck. I keep track of where the apes are so I can escort the zoo visitors to where they can see them. But I could not see even one. The Dallas zoo creates habitats for the highly intelligent animals to be allowed to get away from humans when they want or need to. Today was very hot and humid and the boys surely were hiding out in the dry mote in shady spots out of view.
Suddenly, I looked from the Station to a viewing deck across the habitat and saw two zoo employees pointing into the habitat who were clearly very engaged. They must see gorillas over there, I thought, so I quickly took off in that direction.
Once I arrived, the guys were gazing over the deck into the habitat with such concentration that I figured one of the gorillas was playing in the water, which is a stunning sight. When I see it, I feel at peace with the world. I walked over close to the two men and looked over the handrail. The breeze was rustling through the trees, the squirrels were having a field day with the gorilla food as usual and the little waterfall was trickling at a somewhat odd pace into the shallow gorilla pool. There was not a gorilla in sight. What are these guys gazing at? I thought.
After a while I finally asked, “What are you guys looking at? I can’t see one gorilla!”
“We are looking at the waterfall,” one of them said.
“Oh,” I giggled, “I was thinking you loved gorillas, but you love waterfalls?”
“Well, we care about them,” he said, “we are the team in charge of the water features at the Dallas Zoo.”