Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla
December 21, 2011 11:53 AM   Subscribe

"An amazing chance encounter with a troop of wild mountain gorillas near Bwindi National Park, Uganda."
posted by ericb (42 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Another (previous) gorilla encounter.
posted by ericb at 11:54 AM on December 21, 2011

My favorite gorilla video making the rounds.
posted by punkfloyd at 12:00 PM on December 21, 2011

Ooh, that deep-dark red earth, I'll never forget it. This is beautiful. Thanks, ericb.
posted by clockzero at 12:02 PM on December 21, 2011

That dad gorilla is awesome. I've done exactly what he's doing on a million walks.

1) OK, we can stop and look at this thing.
2) *touch child lightly* Let's move on?
3) *sits down for the long haul*
4) *finally gets up and moves on to drag children in wake*
posted by DU at 12:06 PM on December 21, 2011 [32 favorites]

Was there a gorilla in that video? I must have missed it because I was too busy counting the number of times the white team passed the ball.
posted by etc. at 12:08 PM on December 21, 2011 [19 favorites]

Obviously not one of us, but obviously something more than a mere animal... and I'm sure they were thinking the same thing. Wow.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:17 PM on December 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

that was amazing
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 12:18 PM on December 21, 2011

what Stonestock Relentless said.
posted by 12bits at 12:21 PM on December 21, 2011

Wow, just wow. I bet that guy was doing everything possible to not pee himself and laugh from euphoria at the same time. Amazing animals like this trigger some weird emotion in me that had tears streaming down my face as I watched those kid gorillas groom and pet the guy.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 12:24 PM on December 21, 2011 [6 favorites]

I wonder if they would get annoyed if they kept grooming him and he didn't groom back.
posted by empath at 12:26 PM on December 21, 2011

I was thinking along those lines, Empath, but more towards whether or not he was 'allowed' to move within sight of the Silverback once the kids/female had accepted him.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:28 PM on December 21, 2011

Oh man, I am going there later this year and this makes me really excited. Any advice from anyone that has done gorilla trekking in Uganda?
posted by Falconetti at 12:29 PM on December 21, 2011

wow - that reunion one was super touching...
posted by symbioid at 12:29 PM on December 21, 2011

Hmmm... there's a lot to take in in that video. Add humans to the list of Earth apes we need to study Zorlag.
posted by Elmore at 12:30 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Go see them now. Your grandkids probably won't have the opportunity.

Estimated number of wild mountain gorillas (which don't reproduce in captivity): under 700

Minimum number of mountain gorillas needed to keep the species viable for 40 generations, with 99% probability: 11,919 mature adults
posted by gottabefunky at 12:46 PM on December 21, 2011 [6 favorites]

I've gotten almost this close with wild dolphins, and it is, indeed, euphoric. Also scary as shit, since it's completely clear at every second that they could kill you if they chose to.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:48 PM on December 21, 2011

I love his last comments. "I'm a gorrilla. I am a gorilla."

I don't know what he paid for that vacation, but it was worth every penny.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:49 PM on December 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

I was wondering too, Empath, but I think he'd be expected to groom the Silverback, which... I certainly wouldn't try. I was wondering about it when the camera man sputtered something like, "Your black jacket... and your hair." Maybe he was a rogue silverback to them who, being overtly submissive, was tolerated by the Big Guy, but still above them women and children, who groomed him out of respect.

At least that's my uber-amateur understanding of grooming behavior.
posted by cmoj at 12:51 PM on December 21, 2011

Did he pee his pants? I was thinking 'if that were me, I'd be peeing my pants' and then I snuck a peek and I think maybe John did as well.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:58 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is no way in the world I could do that. Knowing that there's a creature climbing on me, whose daddy (who is probably quite capable of ripping my head off my shoulders) is sitting less than a metre away, would have me having hysterics.

Amazing experience.
posted by Solomon at 1:06 PM on December 21, 2011

This has got to be one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. I keep shifting between extreme jealousy and awe. Lucky dude, amazing animals.
posted by teleri025 at 1:06 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by supermedusa at 1:11 PM on December 21, 2011

I like how the silverback would stop every now and then and give a look that says, "I know that you know what I can do to you."
posted by brappi at 1:22 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is absolutely breathtaking. I'm experiencing the aftereffects of true vicarious joy.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:27 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

stinkycheese: I'm pretty sure that is a plant between his legs giving an unfortunately looking pattern...
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:29 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I wondered if that might be going on. He doesn't seem at all nervous. Probably best he couldn't actually see the dad in that situation.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:34 PM on December 21, 2011

cool encounter, but cheesy and unnecessary, production value/narration that does nothing but detract.
posted by Fupped Duck at 1:50 PM on December 21, 2011

Interesting details about the wild mountain gorillas in the park:
"[Bwindi Impenetrable National Park] is inhabited by a population of about 340 individual mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), known as the Bwindi population, which makes up almost half of all the mountain gorillas in the world. The rest of the worldwide mountain gorilla population is in the nearby Virunga National Park. A 2006 census of the mountain gorilla population in the park showed that its numbers had increased modestly from an estimated 300 individuals in 1997 to 320 individuals in 2002 to 340 individuals in 2006. Disease and habitat loss are the greatest threat to the gorillas. Poaching is also a threat.

Research on the Bwindi population lags behind that of the Virunga National Park population, but some preliminary research on the Bwindi gorilla population has been carried out by Craig Stanford. This research has shown that the Bwindi gorilla's diet is markedly higher in fruit than that of the Virunga population, and that the Bwindi gorillas, even silverbacks, are more likely to climb trees to feed on foliage, fruits, and epiphytes. In some months, Bwindi gorilla diet is very similar to that of Bwindi chimpanzees. It was also found that Bwindi gorillas travel further per day than Virunga gorillas, particularly on days when feeding primarily on fruit than when they are feeding on fibrous foods. Additionally, Bwindi gorillas are much more likely to build their nests in trees, nearly always in Echizogwa, a small understory tree.

Mountain gorillas are an endangered species, with an estimated total population of about 650 individuals. There are no mountain gorillas in captivity. In the 1960s and 1970s, mountain gorillas were captured in order to begin a population of them in captive facilities. No baby gorillas survived in captivity, and no mountain gorillas are known of that are currently in captivity."
posted by ericb at 1:51 PM on December 21, 2011

Truly awe inspiring!

"I wonder if they would get annoyed if they kept grooming him and he didn't groom back."

Probably no more than we'd expect a dog to move when we pet them. Like the narrator said, his black shirt and white hair may have marked him as a little more familiar and thus "friendly" than the other humans. The little gorillas wanted to reach out and make contact with the Other, so they did it with the least scary person there. But they knew he wasn't one of them.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:03 PM on December 21, 2011

The look of pure, unadulterated joy on John's face at the end is breathtaking.

Thank you.
posted by davidjmcgee at 2:12 PM on December 21, 2011

I would have thought gorillas would have chosen a different musical track. I guess I have a lot to learn.
posted by cccorlew at 2:33 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

awesome ...
posted by butchseaman at 2:37 PM on December 21, 2011

I'm going throughsome rough times at the moment but this actually made me feel joyful for a few minutes, for the first time in a very long time. Thank you so much for posting this.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 3:24 PM on December 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

The silverback's body language was amazing. I could practically hear him saying to leave the nice man alone and get on with the walk before he sat down.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:43 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Okay, come on. Leave the man alone," is exactly what I said in my gorilla voice when the dad steered the little one away.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:03 PM on December 21, 2011

WOW. Wow. That was astonishing. Thanks, ericb.
posted by Spinneret at 6:54 PM on December 21, 2011

Great post...what a cool video!
posted by jnnla at 6:59 PM on December 21, 2011

Was he intentionally averting his eyes at the beginning? I seem to recall hearing that that is standard procedure, to avoid the chance of appearing to be challenging.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:03 PM on December 21, 2011

God be with you, ape.
posted by stargell at 8:14 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Paging ChuraChura, our local primatologist currently in Cote D'Ivoire
posted by Blasdelb at 9:25 PM on December 21, 2011

I'm no primatologist, but yeah, no eyes and no teeth. Both are considered as a challenge or threat, and obviously that would be a very bad idea. He's lucky the silverback didn't see his big happy grin.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:17 AM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

That was awesome. And the father gorilla was just radiating long-suffering daddyhood all the way through. "Well, at least they're pulling on someone else's hair today."
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:41 AM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

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