Research/Care Blog: Polite Gorilla Meets New Team Member

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As a newcomer to the Gorilla Foundation family, my interaction with the gorillas is limited. Ndume is still a bit wary of me. Although he tolerates my presence on the grounds, we haven’t gotten very close to one another yet. Koko, on the other hand, has been quite friendly and we have enjoyed several nice ‘porch visits.’ My visits with her usually involve sitting quietly next to each other or me ‘sleeping’ next to her. She often likes her visitors to ‘sleep,’ which ensures that Koko can assess her now-quiet visitor at her leisure. Koko also likes to see people’s dental work, so at her request I’ve shown her the inside of my mouth several times. All in all, from what Penny and the caregivers tell me, Koko seems to like me.

Given this, I was surprised at Koko’s unexpected behavior during a recent visit. Upon my arrival, I sat down in my usual spot on the porch. Even before I was fully seated, she abruptly stood up and walked away. I remained where I was and waited to see what happened next. Penny asked Koko what was wrong. Penny very quickly figured out that Koko had wanted to have her snack before visiting with me. As soon as Koko knew that Penny figured it out (and that her snack was indeed coming soon), Koko sat down next to me and looked directly into my eyes. Then she signed that she is a ‘polite’ gorilla and asked me to ‘sleep.’ As I laid down and ‘slept,’ I was very touched by the fact that my new gorilla friend had felt the need to apologize to me for her previous behavior.