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Silverback mountain gorilla ‘Dad of the Year’

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There’s no escape for this Silverback Mountain gorilla dad. “He’s a climbing frame. A drum. A trampoline. He’s a jungle gym.” And in this PBS Nature clip from their Primates episode, he’s also attentive, gentle, patient, and unphased by these high-touch parenting activities.

gorilla kid hanging around
Filmed on the verdant slopes of the Virunga volcanoes, this gorilla family enjoys their time together. Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s also Africa’s oldest national park and one of the last places on the planet where endangered mountain gorillas can live peacefully in the wild. Some background from National Geographic:

To stay warm in the mountains, mountain gorillas have longer hair than their eastern lowland cousins, the Grauer’s gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri). They also tend to be a bit larger than other gorillas and have shorter arms.

Gorillas can climb trees, but are usually found on the ground in communities of up to 30 individuals. These troops are organized according to fascinating social structures. Troops are led by one dominant, older adult male, often called a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns his otherwise dark fur. Troops also include several other young males, some females, and their offspring.

The leader organizes troop activities like eating, nesting in leaves, and moving about in a home range of 0.75-to 16 square miles.

Those who challenge this alpha male are apt to be cowed by impressive shows of physical power. He may stand upright, throw things, make aggressive charges, and pound his huge chest while barking out powerful hoots or unleashing a frightening roar. Despite these displays and the animals’ obvious physical power, gorillas are generally calm and nonaggressive unless they are disturbed.

In the thick forests of central and west Africa, troops find plentiful food for their vegetarian diet. They eat roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, and tree bark and pulp.

cuddling in the forest
Related reading from June 2020: Safeguarding the Endangered Mountain Gorilla during COVID-19 Crisis. Plus: more gorilla clips on PBS Nature.

Then watch more gorilla videos on TKSST, including:
• Calaya gives birth to baby gorilla Moke at The National Zoo
• Baby Gorilla Gladys at the Cincinnati Zoo
• Dr. Charlotte Uhlenbroek meets a family of mountain gorillas

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