Saturday, November 22, 2008
in the mist
Gorillas are endangered. They may soon disappear. One of our closest relatives among animals, gorillas are highly intelligent, social and gentle. They eat leaves, roots, berries, bark and fruit. The mountain gorilla lives in the thick foliage and mountain mists of upland Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Koko the gorilla, a lowland gorilla born in captivity, learned sign language and communicated readily and fluently with her human companions. She had a pet kitten she named "All Ball" and was heartbroken by All Ball's premature death. Koko shared human's propensity for prejudice among other things. She was fascinated with photographs of other apes, but if shown a picture of a monkey, was as likely or not to sign "dirty stink monkey!". Koko has an IQ measured as being just slightly less than that of the average human. She has a vocabulary of over 1000 words. She is the first non-human animal to be known to specifically request medical care, when she had a bad toothache.
There is a wealth of information about Koko including a particularly interesting documentary film called Koko: a Talking Gorilla. There is much fiction and fact written on gorillas of all kinds. If you're interested, you might want to start here.
The photograph above is an imaginary scene. It comes, unfortunately, not from real life but from hope and respect. The photo of the gorilla in the picture is taken from one I made of a gorilla in the Toronto zoo. The rest of the image is a construct from other of my photographs.