7 a.m. | Check Ups and Check Outs
To start the day, each gorilla receives a small cup of yogurt. This is how we deliver most medications to individuals that need them. While the gorillas enjoy this pre-breakfast snack, we perform an overall wellness check. We take note of whether the gorillas are bright, alert, and behaving and maneuvering around their habitat as normal. We also look for any signs of injuries—cuts, scrapes or favoring appendages—that may require veterinary attention.
While the gorillas continue to wake up inside, we prepare the outdoor habitat, weather permitting. Before the gorillas can go outside, we ensure the habitat is secure and look for any foreign objects, such as fallen tree limbs, that may need to be removed. We also check for critters that may have spent the night, such as snakes. If there is one creature that our gorillas aren’t fond of, it is those legless reptiles. Even our 400-pound silverback Baraka will run away if he spots one!
7:30 a.m. | The Search for Snacks
Once the coast is clear, we set up various enrichment items, such as puzzle feeders, and toss food all around the habitat. We want to encourage our gorillas to forage for their daily diet, just as they would in the wild. Forage feedings give the troop an opportunity to eat together without much competition, which helps maintain strong social bonds.
When the door opens and the gorillas step outside, some get straight to the snacks, while others choose to play with the enrichment items or each other. Our 3-year-old youngster, Moke, seems to enjoy rummaging through all of the toys he can find! Mornings are a great time to visit our gorilla troop, as it is usually when Moke and his favorite friend—12-year-old female, Kibibi—are at their most playful and rambunctious.
10:30 a.m. | Exciting Enrichment
While the gorillas spend time outside, we clean their indoor enclosures and place even more enrichment around their habitat. After a few hours of playing, eating and relaxing, the gorillas are usually ready for a change of scenery. Inside, they are greeted with puzzle feeders filled with food. These items are great for both physical and mental exercise—they have to think about how to extract the tasty treats within the toys. Our oldest gorilla—39-year-old female and mother to Kibibi, Mandara—seems to enjoy coming inside as early as possible to try and get first dibs on the exciting enrichment that awaits!