Inside the Great Apes of Harambee at the Detroit Zoo

- At the Detroit Zoo, get transported to the African Forest - the Great Apes of Harambee at the Detroit Zoo. This 4-acre habitat is home to three western lowland gorillas, as well as drills and chimpanzees in a separate area.

The three gorillas are silverbacks and half-brothers: 19-year-old Chip, 18-year-old Pende, and 17-year-old Kongo. Similar to gray hair in humans, the hair on the back of a male gorilla turns silver-gray with age, earning them the name "silverback".

Chip, the oldest of the three, became a silverback first and for a while was the most dominant. Though he's the youngest, Kongo has become the largest, and is now more dominant due to his size. As the smallest, Pende is less interested in the power struggle and is characterized by the animal care staff as laid back, sweet and non-confrontational.

Scientists have found that gorillas exhibit behavior very similar to humans. For example, they seem to have individual personalities, and have been shown to experience complex emotions such as grief.

Grooming is an important part of gorilla social life. Gorillas will comb each other's hair using fingers and teeth.

Gorillas utilize a range of vocalizations to signal different things to others. For example, they make different complex sounds to teach survival skills to their young or while foraging for food.

The Detroit Zoological Society is a partner in the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a collaborative worldwide effort to save the highly endangered Grauer's gorilla.

GRACE is the only facility in the world that provides rescue and rehabilitative care for orphaned Grauer's gorillas, also known as eastern lowland gorillas.

GRACE is located on 370 acres in a remote, forested area of central Africa. It is currently home to 14 orphaned Grauer's gorillas between the ages of 3 and 12 years old. 

Grauer's gorillas are among the most endangered apes in the world due to the widespread habitat destruction, poaching and threats associated with the rapidly growing human population within their habitat.

In the last 20 years, more than half of the Grauer's gorilla population has been wiped out, and it's possible that as few as 2,000 of these animals remain in the wild today.

As part of the effort to conserve the species, the orphaned gorillas being cared for at GRACE are also learning skills so they can hopefully be reintroduced into the wild.

In the video above, you see the gorillas eating some pumpkins. Smashing Pumpkins returns this Saturday, October 22, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This event is free with Zoo admission.

You can get more information at www.detroitzoo.org.

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