Cindy recently commented on how much she loves our gorillas and wondered how their personalities differ. I was immediately impressed that Cindy recognized gorillas have distinct personalities. I am always somewhat surprised when people are amazed to hear that our gorillas are very much individuals.
Mokolo (to the right in the photo) is the younger of our two guys -- he's 21 years old -- but he is larger and has a very strong and dominant personality. We saw this personality early on when he came to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo as a spoiled 7-year-old. He is very smart and interacts freely with his keepers.
Bebac (to the left in the photo) is 23 years old and has always had the personality of the middle-man, just wanting to get along with the others. This was also evident early on as Bebac played the diplomat of the group (our two gorillas were part of a larger group in the past). He is pretty laid back and is content to stay out of the way when Mokolo is in one of his moods.
One question I often get about gorillas is: "how strong are they?" I could tell you that they are as strong as ten men, which would be fairly accurate, but it's easier to grasp gorilla strength by relaying a story in which I witnessed their awesome strength first hand. Years ago I was working with our silverback Timmy, and I needed to move him from his holding area to his exhibit. We had a sliding door system and the door I needed to move him through was stuck in a closed position. Another Animal Keeper and I tugged and pulled with all of our might but couldn't get it to budge. Only after the help of a pry bar, we were able to get the door open about two inches. I decided to send Timmy through to see what he could do. He made his way to the door, stuck his fingers through the gap, and with a simple flick of his wrist threw the door open like it was nothing. Talk about your humbling experience.