We received a comment from Facebook about last week’s #GorillaStory update, in which Baraka gently yet firmly disciplined Moke during a training session. He did so for one reason only—Moke was getting too close to Baraka’s one-on-one time with me and his positive reinforcement grapes. Baraka nudged Moke to discourage him from interrupting the training session. Contrast his reaction to that of Calaya when Mandara or Kibibi attempt to enter the area during a training session. She makes her displeasure very clear with bark-like vocalizations and facial cues—and they know not to come near.
Last week, I mentioned that all of the gorilla subspecies, including western lowland gorillas, are critically endangered. This means that they are at risk of becoming extinct in the wild if actions are not taken to secure their survival.
Zoonotic diseases—ones that can be transmitted between humans and animals—can prove deadly for gorillas. They can be susceptible to influenza (flu), the common cold and Ebola virus, which has recently surfaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The World Health Organization is monitoring the Ebola outbreak closely. If the disease were to infect gorillas, it could decimate groups with alacrity.
Luckily, there are wonderful groups working to help gorillas, including University of California, Davis’ Gorilla Doctors program, which provides medical care to mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Last December, Global Health Program veterinarian Dawn Zimmerman traveled to Rwanda to assist their dedicated team of veterinarians. I encourage you to read about the amazing work they are doing in her notes from the field.