Gorilla Treeway has been open for just about 3 months now, so I thought I'd give everyone a quick update as to how the gorillas have been taking to it.
The girls are still the stars. They love it out there! On more than one occasion, I've actually had a difficult time getting Honi to come in. If you've been out to visit, you might have seen me pleading with her to shift in for lunch! Motuba still hasn't ventured too far out yet. He'll go across the first stretch into the gorilla loop and sit there to eat for a little bit before heading back in for the day. One thing I've noticed is that, although he doesn't utilize the trail itself very much, he really seems to like hanging out there in the stairs. If you recall, one of the advantages of these trail systems for the animals is that it offers them choice over their environment. So while our visitors don't get to see too much of him out there, he's a pretty happy camper just chilling out there in the off-exhibit portion of the trail.
Kuchimba is following in Motuba's footsteps, and not spending too much time in the trail. I've been able to encourage him to go out a little bit further every day, and now he'll go about halfway into the gorilla loop. He's made progress in that, at the beginning of the summer, he'd inch his way towards his food, grab it and run back inside. Now, he will casually eat all of the food out there (as long as I don't put it too far out for him) and spends much more time out there before heading back in. Baby steps, right?
Louis is doing great! He doesn't spend quite as much time hanging out in the trail as the girls, but he always runs right out, likes to explore the whole trail, and casually eats all of his food out there.
At this point, the gorillas have met several different species of cats who are utilizing their ground trail underneath Gorilla Treeway. I've found it really interesting that the only cats that any of the gorillas seem to interact with are the tiger boys. I assume it's because they are so large and active and really interested in the gorillas themselves. Kira likes to get the tigers to chase her down the long stretch of trail, looking behind her periodically to make sure they're still there! She also positions herself directly over them and throws food down on them. It's pretty funny to watch. Honi might also engage in a chase or two, but she doesn't get as into it as Kira does. Louis's interactions are a little more intense. He seems to enjoy displaying at the tigers underneath him and acts like he's large and in charge.
If you haven't seen our gorillas in the Treeway yet, be sure to come out and visit us!
By Kristen Farley-Rambo, Primary Gorilla Keeper