As you may have heard, we opened a new gorilla exhibit on May 16! Gorilla Treeway is an extension of Zoo360, the Zoo's interactive and groundbreaking trail system. All of the gorillas have had their turn to check it out, and so far the girls, Honi and Kira, are the stars!
was the first to venture out, exploring the entire length of the trail right away. It wasn't long after that Kira
followed suit. Motuba
is still quite unsure of the whole thing, and has yet to go much further than the first stretch of trail. When he does come out, it's funny to watch him try and navigate so that he only steps on the cross beams and not on the mesh itself. That mesh actually has a bit of give to it, so you might imagine that a 430 pound gorilla wouldn't want to walk on something that bounces! It also makes sense because, both in the wild and here at the Zoo, it's the females that take more to the trees, while the larger males are much more terrestrial, hanging out on the ground.
A surprise for me is that Kuchimba
hasn't explored the trail as much as I expected him to yet. He's only had a couple of days to check it out, so hopefully he'll become more acclimated to it over time, but so far he's hanging out closer to home. Louis
, on the other hand, has done quite a bit of exploring. Again, he's only had the opportunity to go out a couple of times, and I've yet to see him actually hang out in it, but he's at least walked through the whole thing a few times.
If you come to see the gorillas in their trail but can’t find them, you may wonder where they are. The beauty of these trails is that it increases options for the animals, and gives them choice over their environment. The gorillas enter their trail through an off-exhibit, outdoor space. We do not lock them out in the trail, so we give them access to that off-exhibit space. Giving them "access" means that they have the choice to be in one space or the other.
If our family group has access to the entire trail (Gorilla Treeway and the adjoining orangutan/gibbon trail, known as Great Ape Trail
), chances are that Motuba is choosing to stay off exhibit, but look for the girls napping down by Tiger Terrace. If one of the boys has the trail, they too may be choosing to remain off exhibit at a given time. But as all of the gorillas get more acclimated to their new trail, they’ll likely be spending more time in Gorilla Treeway in public view.
By Kristen Farley-Rambo, Primary Gorilla Keeper