Gorillas at Zoo Atlanta

April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm (Atlanta, Nature, Photography, Wildlife, Zoos) (, , )

Zoos are not just for entertaining Homo sapiens; they are playing a critical role in preserving species threatened in the wild.  I was dismayed during my visit to Zoo Atlanta to learn just how critical the populations are of many iconic animals in their native habitats.  I was also sorry that most of the visitors didn’t bother to read the signs that talked about the dangers faced by gorillas, leopards, orangutans, rhinoceros, and others known and unknown.  Poaching is a huge business, and habitat destruction is wiping out many sub-species forever.

Mom and baby

Zoo breeding programs may not result in many animals being released into the wild, since there isn’t much “wild” left anymore.  But they do preserve what’s left, and perhaps some day things may change and humans will realize that nature reserves and parks aren’t the only place animals should be allowed to thrive.

Gorillas have long held a fascination for us, partly because they are so similar to us in many ways.  It’s easy to see how they can be our relatives, especially when a serene mother carries and caresses her little baby, and when the youngsters play with each other.  Their fierce visage and huge build belie a gentleness that they show with each other.

One brawny gorilla sat eating a tomato, savoring the little bites, manipulating it delicately with its sensitive fingers.

Baby hanging on to mother's leg

A tiny baby clung to its mother’s chest, and then slipped down her leg, staying tightly wrapped as she moved to a better spot.  Later it hopped off to play with a juvenile, and an older sibling got a “piggyback ride.”  I’m glad I brought my binoculars, as sometimes they were too far away to see details of their goings-on.

I’ll post more on the critters at Zoo Atlanta next time.

For more information, go to ZooAtlanta’s website, and see their Gorilla page

All images copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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