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Gorilla Joy
August 16, 2012 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Two brothers' joyful reunion: The nine-year-old Alf and 13-year-old Kesho were recently rejoined at a new Gorilla Colony at Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire, after having been separated for almost three years (alternative BBC gallery). Born in the Dublin Zoo's lowland gorilla troop, they were split up when Kesho was transferred to London Zoo for their breeding program, where he matured into a silverback. "The keepers from Dublin weren't entirely sure the brothers would even know each other," said their new keeper. "But the moment they met you could just see the recognition in their eyes." Related, previously
posted by Doktor Zed (18 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
"What you're seeing is exactly what you think you're seeing," he said. "Two intelligent social mammals, who were separate, are pleased to see each other again and play together. It is gorilla joy, being reunited with someone you used to have good times with and now you can again, so it's gorilla happiness."

...quoth the naked ape.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:30 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gorilla reunion set to LeAnn Rimes for added bathos.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:33 AM on August 16, 2012


Whenever I see something like this, part of me gets a warm fuzzy. But in another part, witnessing their emotion, my heart breaks a thousand times for the cruelties and injustices done these extraordinary, intelligent and feeling fellow creatures.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:40 AM on August 16, 2012 [26 favorites]


Despite Kesho's reproductive deficiencies, his time spent in female company led to his appearance to change dramatically.

His rise in testosterone levels gave him a famous silverback, his weight ballooned by 200lbs and his neck and head also grew in size.


This is so interesting (and it's really illustrated in the difference between the brothers). Is the same true for humans?
[Also, these physiological changes highlight how human intervention led these two to live very different lives; I'm not sure which is more "natural"]
posted by bluefly at 10:47 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or is it just that one is older than the other? The article confused. Either way, aw!
posted by bluefly at 10:51 AM on August 16, 2012


"It is gorilla joy, being reunited with someone you used to have good times with and now you can again, so it's gorilla happiness."
Fixed that for you!
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:02 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


they were split up when Kesho was transferred to London Zoo

Like African-American slave families being split up when members were sold to different owners.
posted by scratch at 11:18 AM on August 16, 2012


scratch: "they were split up when Kesho was transferred to London Zoo

Like African-American slave families being split up when members were sold to different owners.
"

Or, like any family split up for any reason.
posted by sundaydriver at 11:21 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Despite Kesho's reproductive deficiencies, his time spent in female company led to his appearance to change dramatically...Is the same true for humans?

Dunno, but I remember reading a study way back in the early '70s about a scientist who spent six days a week in isolation and to combat boredom started to weigh the hair in his electric razor every day. He would spend his day off with his girlfriend and they would always have sex. He reported that the day before he saw his girlfriend would produce a bumper crop of facial hair.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:24 AM on August 16, 2012


"Alf?"

Doesn't Ireland have a Humane Society?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:36 AM on August 16, 2012


Gorilla orphan, park ranger share a touching moment
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have been imagining them with little speech bubbles saying "Dude!"
(it helps)
posted by scruss at 1:04 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Adolescent gorillas frequently leave their family group, so this was not a cruel act. In fact, this is fairly close to wild behavior for gorillas; young blackback male leaves his natal group, is able to secure a few females, loses his group to another silverback, ends up in an bachelor group. Gorilla groups are quite dynamic in the wild.
posted by tavella at 1:04 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have been imagining them with little speech bubbles saying "Dude!"

Which reminds me of this classic Far Side cartoon.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:31 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


In fact, this is fairly close to wild behavior for gorillas; young blackback male leaves his natal group, is able to secure a few females, loses his group to another silverback, ends up in an bachelor group.

What about Alf? He seems to have gone straight to the bachelor group without the chance to procreate. Is that natural?
posted by bluefly at 2:15 PM on August 16, 2012


Pretty much. Gorilla groups normally consist of many more females than males, and if they have more than one silverback they are usually very closely related. Only the strongest new males are likely to be able to take over an existing group or lure a female away from one, and the luckiest to meet up with a female leaving her natal group or a disbanding group. So many, probably most, never get the opportunity to mate.

There's certainly been some very cruel treatment of gorillas in zoos in the past, and the third brother sounds a little young to be pulled from his natal group, but separation from the natal group in itself isn't cruelty.
posted by tavella at 3:54 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, bachelor groups usually have blackback males who haven't reached their prime - they're sexually mature, so they leave their natal group, but they're not old enough to challenge silverbacks or attract females. Being in a bachelor group is safer than wandering by themselves.

Most gorilla groups only have one mature adult male, so in zoos, bachelor groups are a great way to keep males in social groups without risking social turmoil in groups that already have established silverbacks.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:57 PM on August 16, 2012


Despite Kesho's reproductive deficiencies, his time spent in female company led to his appearance to change dramatically.

His rise in testosterone levels gave him a famous silverback, his weight ballooned by 200lbs and his neck and head also grew in size.


Just like me!
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:16 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


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