The San Diego Zoo is home to some pretty remarkable creatures, but the gorilla exhibit is especially fascinating. In Gorilla Tropics, you’ll find these endangered mammals thriving in a natural, meticulously maintained landscape. Their zoo home mimics the Western Lowlands of Africa, which allows the gentle giants to behave as instinctively as they would in the wild. This is what makes the display so captivating.
A Scenic Habitat
The gorilla viewing area has all the comforts of the rainforest that these intriguing beasts enjoy. You’ll see gorgeous cascades of water, large trees for climbing, lush greenery and many different levels of land for the gorillas to explore. There are two troops at the zoo, and each takes a turn showing off outside for guests. The gorillas that stay indoors for the day spend their time in a special recreation area.
Gorillas are the largest of all primates, so they use up every bit of space they’re given. It’s not unusual to see young ones tumbling down a hill, playing hide-and-seek, splashing in the water or wrestling in the grass. Older gorillas sometimes just sit back and watch the action. You may even catch one sitting near a viewing window and watching you. If you can see a few up close, check out their noses; no two are exactly alike.
Gorillas belong to complicated social groups, and their seemingly erratic behaviors are actually very methodical. The leader of the troop is called a silverback. He makes all the decisions and is in charge of keeping the troop safe and well fed. Although gorillas are mostly peaceful, a silverback will show his anger when challenged. Children love getting to see the powerful, big bosses beat their chests and throw king-sized tantrums.
Your young ones will also enjoy watching the gorillas at mealtimes. These massive animals seriously love to eat. The male gorilla’s large stomach can hold as much as 40 pounds of food every day. Several times a day, zoo staff members scatter food around the exhibit for the gorillas to hunt. Their favorite foods include fruits, leaves, stems, roots, seeds, termites and ants. They occasionally even receive cereal as treats.
A Close Family Unit
Gorillas like being together, and the mother’s bond to her babies is strong. If you’re fortunate enough to visit the zoo after a new arrival, you’ll see something quite special. Babies weigh only a few pounds when they’re born, and they rely on their 200-pound mothers for everything. The mother snuggles the tiny, hairy newborn against her chest until it can cling to her back. It’s truly a sweet sight to see.
Young gorillas learn to walk at six months, but they don’t lose the cute factor just because they let go of Mom. The little ones learn by imitation, and seeing them attempting grown-up behaviors is absolutely adorable. It’s even more entertaining to watch the strict silverbacks gently caring for or playing with their offspring. Seeing the families interact really provides insight into how much like humans these animals are.
Although there are dozens of exciting habitats at the popular Southern California zoo, the gorilla exhibit is unlike any other display. It offers a realistic glimpse into a mysterious world. As they perform their silly knuckle walks or grunt their emotions to each other, gorillas are telling a tale. It’s a story that both the young and young at heart can appreciate, and it’s being told every day at the beautiful San Diego Zoo.