On this day in 2016, when more videos than people went viral, the world learnt of the sad incident at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in US. Harambe, a 17-year-old, 440 pound male silverback gorilla had to be shot dead just one day after his birthday. Four years on, we commemorate him by learning a bit more about gorillas.
Fun fact: Harambe was named after a song by Rita Marley, wife of the late Bob Marley; and Harambee meant ‘communal labour’ in Swahili.
- Quit Monkeying Around
Firstly we need to correct ourselves if we ever refer to gorillas as monkeys. Although they all fall under the category of primates, gorillas are part of the great ape family (and are the largest primates in the world). One way to tell is that monkeys have tails and great apes such as gorillas do not.
- Prime Mate
While bonobo apes have their sexual reputation still intact, gorillas have also been noticed to have sex face to face. And there is no specific mating period so that they can mate during any time of the year. However, before they start having sex partners they must separate from the troop they’re born into and start searching for a “silverback” male from another group.
- Gentle Giants
Many people tend to fear gorillas because of their size and strength, but gorillas actually have a calm demeanour. To maintain the peace, just keep your distance and don’t make eye contact or behave threateningly. That being said, no matter how cute you think a baby gorilla is they, like almost all other primates, don’t make for good pets.
- Prey Tell
Thanks to their sheer size, gorillas have no real natural predator. Yet they share their habitat with a host of other large and potentially dangerous animals as well – like African forest elephants and leopards. Leopards are powerful felines that have the ability to kill an adult gorilla. Another possible predator are crocodiles which can attack gorillas as they come to drink or when they walk in the middle of swamp forests. Of course, humans endanger them more than any other animal, sadly.
- Don’t Go Bananas
While some television shows may depict gorillas eating bananas, it is not part of their diet. Simply because bananas don’t naturally grow in the gorilla’s natural environment. They are mainly herbivores that feed on stems, bamboo shoots and fruits but have also been known to consume small invertebrates like ants and termites.