Gorilla Care

The Gorilla Foundation’s mission of Conservation through Communication extends to captive gorillas living in zoos and sanctuaries, where the goal is “optimization of gorilla care” using all the lessons we’ve learned by communicating with gorillas Koko, Michael and Ndume for over 40 years.

Gorillas in Zoos

Gorillas living in zoos across America and in Europe are not doing as well as you might think! They  often live in concrete rooms and are permitted to go outside rarely — and when they do, it’s usually in front of a crowd of people taunting them and shouting with no one moderating.

Furthermore, they are given little autonomy and it is frowned up to even suggest teaching them a little bit of sign language (which they can easily master) — or that we learn some of their natural gestures — so that they can communicate their want and needs to caregivers — and vice versa. There is a better way, which would be good for them, for us, and for their free-living counterparts in Africa.

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The KokoMaui Gorilla Sanctuary

There are currently no gorilla sanctuaries outside of Africa — no safe, natural habitats for zoo gorillas who are not adapting well to zoo life, or can’t be on exhibit, or who live at overpopulated zoos. Thus, The Gorilla Foundation is proposing to use the 70+ acres it has on the island of Maui, Hawaii, to build the first tropical gorilla sanctuary outside of Africa.

It could be a refuge for selected zoo gorillas around the world, and a place to demonstrate the benefits for gorillas of living in large open spaces, with lots of autonomy, and the ability to communicate with their caregiver in the gestural language of their choice.

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