The gorilla side of the Great Ape House was brimming with activity Christmas Day, and the primate team had a great time providing the apes with holiday-themed enrichment. All of the gorillas enjoyed their tree limbs draped with colorful wrapping paper. Moke got a big kick out of the crunch of the paper as he pulled it down, rolled around in it and tore it apart. Kojo received a large, decked-out box and had a great time unwrapping it and discovering the goodies inside. Holiday treats included coconut, popcorn balls, sunflower seeds, bamboo and alfalfa. There was lots of foraging and playing by all!
Over the past few weeks, we have noticed that Baraka spends a greater amount of time with Moke and seems to enjoy moving his son around. He will pick him up by the arm and hoist him in the air, or gently pull Moke by the leg and deposit him a short distance away. Moke still looks at Baraka with reverence, but he is clearly much more comfortable making frequent physical contact with his dad.
On a recent morning, Kibibi, Calaya and Moke were wrestling, and I saw a glimpse of the unstoppable duo that Moke and Calaya will become when he is older. He is sprouting two tiny lower canine teeth and does not hesitate to open his mouth and bare his teeth when he is in the throes of a display! During one particular play session, Calaya and Moke were in the chute that provides passage between the gorillas’ indoor and outdoor enclosures. Moke saw me passing by below and let me know he wanted to play by crouching down and extending his arm towards me. I simply had to oblige! Every time I tickled him, he jumped back and ran to the metal door that leads to the yard and banged it with his fist. This behavior is reminiscent of Baraka’s display when he is in the chute and our other silverback, Kojo, is in the yard. Baraka quickly runs to the door and body slams it or hits it with his fist. Like father, like son! Moke’s displays are more frequent now. He even puts on the characteristic “mean mug” to show just what a tough guy he really is.
One day, a keeper observed Kibibi pick up Moke and carry him over to where her brother, Kojo, was sitting in an adjacent enclosure. Between them was a mesh “howdy” door that provides visual, auditory and tactile contact. Kibibi placed Moke in front of the door, and he and Kojo began interacting through the mesh. Kojo leaned in, and Moke stood face-to-face with him. This scene highlights the solid relationship between Kibibi and Kojo, as she wanted to share her new buddy with him. It is nice to know that Moke is seeing Kojo as an approachable silverback—another role model for him, indeed.
We are all certain that Moke will be a handful when he gets bigger. He is still an infant but growing steadily. At his last weigh-in, he was 14 pounds. I have seen Moke stand on two legs with an erect posture and sure-footed. Time will tell if he expands the amount of time he stands on two legs and actually starts walking, like a few gorillas have been known to do from time to time.