Gorilla in the Mist – Taipei, Taiwan Trip #7

February 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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While we missed the Giant Pandas, our main purpose in visiting the Taipei Zoo was actually to see one of the animals that cannot be found in our zoo – the Gorilla. 

According to reports, in the 1983 our Singapore Zoo did have four gorillas, but they all died of infection by a relatively common Asian soil pathogen Pseudomonas psuedomallei. (More reports here) Since then, these great apes have not been seen there. Itchyfingers didn’t even know of their once presence in the zoo until we attended a talk. I think for most people, the closest they have ever seen a gorilla must have been in the movies….:p Well, the most famous of all has to be King Kong, with his classic pose climbing on top of the Empire State Building. But the gorilla in the movie King Kong had been portrayed almost like a monster…especially the old, cranky 1933 version, though it was groundbreaking at that era…Peter Jackson’s 2005 version, in my itchymouth‘s opinion, had some memorable scenes with super close-ups of King Kong’s emotional and sensitive side. King Kong was definitely given more human touch. 

It was the same feeling when Itchyfingers finally reached the Gorilla’s enclosure in the Taipei Zoo and saw it for the very first time…so near yet so far, the only obstacle between us being the thick glass panel that had seen its better days…

So human…

Sleeping under the late afternoon glaring sun….

I missed this moment when he was walking cos I was distracted by something
else and reached the enclosure later than Tisu boy…

I was touched…

The side profile of this Western Lowland Gorilla reminded me of some early 
indigenous people…and oh I love that punky hairstyle!

The deep-set eyes... 8) And those ears look just like ours!

Curious as a child as he checked out his human visitors behind the glass

A quick search – the Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is a subspecies of the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) that live in montane, primary, and secondary forests and lowland swamps in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It is the gorilla usually found in zoos. According to this site, two-year-old ‘Bao-bao’ arrived at Taipei in 1987, and 23-year-old silverback gorilla ‘Hei-pei’ was donated to the zoo in July 1993. So by now, Pao-pao must be 24 years old and Hei Pei is at least 40! Wow! That’s grand old age for Gorillas, as they can survive around 40 years in captivity.

Why was I touched when I saw the Gorilla? At size up to 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and weighing almost 450 pounds (200 kg), you would expect the giant primate to be quite intimidating. But what I saw was a peaceful gentle giant content with munching his snack of sugar cane…a far cry from the monstrous beast baring sharp teeth and beating chest in the movie. One could argue that maybe it was because he was a zoo animal without freedom. But if you were to read and watch documentaries of the gorillas, you would learn that they are really shy and secretive inhabitants of dense tropical forests, with diet consisting of mostly plants and some insects. Amazing how such diets allow them to grow into big and muscular primates…heee…:p

Try shift your angle of view and see this cute sign showing the weight of a gorilla…

…can be over the top! 😀

A penny for your thoughts? :p

Sitting upright scratching forehand deep in thoughts….so human!

And finally decided to continue munching his sugar cane snack…

Gorillas in the wild are threatened by habitat loss and poaching (warning: disturbing pictures…) I couldn’t believe that there are actually people who poach these so human-looking animals for bushmeat! How can they ever do that? Considering they look and share similar genes to us, wouldn’t it be like eating your own kind? :O Itchyfingers salute the work of Dian Fossey for her work in gorilla conservation and campaigning against the poaching of wild gorillas. While it is not up to Itchyfingers to comment if we should have animals in zoos, since zoos certainly do serve their purposes in education and conservation, we would definitely prefer to have them in the wild! Really love to have the chance to see wild gorillas (or any other wildlife) in their graceful moves living in their natural habitats one day…

Shooting the gorilla under the glaring afternoon sun and behind the dunnu-when-was-the-last-time-they-cleaned-it glass panel, it was like shooting them in a mist…you tend to get this blue and green tint on your picture….nevertheless, it was still an amazing feeling seeing the gorilla…

(note: some technical hiccup may show this video is no longer available and brings you to youtube…do remember to come back to Itchyfingers!)

Also see related posts:
> It’s a Cat! No! It’s a Bear! –Taipei, Taiwan Trip #6
Wow Cow! Holy Cow! So Many Cows! – CowParade @ Taipei, Taiwan Trip #5
Gong Xi Fa Cai! – Taipei, Taiwan Trip #4
Holy Cow! – CowParade @ Taipei, Taiwan Trip #3
Wow Cow! – CowParade @ Taipei, Taiwan Trip #2
Buy One Get One Free! – Taipei, Taiwan Trip #1


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