Koko samples the goods

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Photographer: Ron Cohn

Source: 061011_S3_IMG_1521.jpg

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Suspended between her two elevated platforms, Koko peruses a bag in which some “treats” have been hidden by sly caregivers. What do you think she”ll find within? Suspense, variety and challenge (both mental and physical) are some of the elements of successful enrichment for happy and healthy great apes living a sanctuary lifestyle.

Of course, gorillas and other great apes wouldn”t have to live in sanctuaries if the dangers were not so great in their African homeland: the bushmeat trade (apes as “food”) and decimation of their habitat for wood and “precious” minerals are just two factors that put them on the “endangered species” list. Perhaps one day the lessons learned from gorillas like Koko (in her own words) will raise the consciousness of their more evolved kindred species (humans) to place them on a different list: “endearing species.”

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