Great Apes
Loro Parque - Tenerife

The world of Great Apes - gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans in “almost natural” settings of Loro Parque (Tenerife).

Meeting the Apes.....

      You like it or not, Great Apes are commonly considered as our closest “cousins”.   From the scientific point of view, we know that for example chimpanzees share about 99% of human DNA, although it may be worth to mention also that genomes make only about 2% of DNA so the biological “distance” to our alleged cousins is quite large. So, let’s put aside DNA, genes and all discussions about the beginning of the World (or in the words of A. Einstein – the beginning of Everything). Observable facts (and so the objective truth) is that members of the family of Great Apes including chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos have many similarities to us – humans. 

Chimpanzee

Silverback gorilla -  you wouldn't like to meet him in the jungle....

Unjustly, with so characteristic to human beings’ arrogance, (or perception of superiority) we often call them monkeys (with the pejorative sense of this word). Many of us probably did not realize (yet), that unlike monkeys, apes do not have tails. And there is a reason for that – they do not spend much time jumping between branches of trees (environment where tails are of great help). As a matter of fact gorillas are not agile climbers preferring rather to live in the “safety” of the ground.

Visiting Zoo Parks, we admire watching wild animals – be it for their natural beauty, fairy-tale colors, raw power, often exoticism (you name it…), but the great apes offer us something special and in a way quite “human” (or let’s say, closer to our nature) – their familiar to us behavioral traits. 

Chimp - Grace and agility make them so funny....

         Starting from the fact that they almost like us in our childhood enjoy playing games, making "fun" of each other, vividly expressing their moods.... Often, looking at gorillas, gesturing to their mates or offspring, you may almost feel the expressed energy of love or anger as if they were humans… Did you see and hear how they communicate between them, sometimes screaming at each other? Did you see their facial expressions? 

Their body language seems to be quite rich (may be even more evolved than ours because they cannot speak!). In many aspects it resembles our own, like us they seem to use hands to point to something when “talking” to others…. I never thought about it, but isn’t the gesture of pointing direction by hand a sort of “enhanced” message we still use in our daily practice, regardless that since long we developed skills of verbal communication?

I guess, he is making a statement here .... and the message is: I'm in charge here!

That's why this is a Silverback Gorilla!

There may be many reasons to respect Gorillas - certainly one of them is their imposing power and authority...

    Apes have quite advanced cognitive abilities – they are social, attached to their “relatives” and offspring (in fact such bonds can last for years). Interestingly, they do not develop special bonds between males and females as the polygamy and the status of “macho-man” are part of their “modus vivendi” (sounds familiar?). They can use tools (chimpanzees were seen fishing for food by inserting long sticks into termites’ nests or using stones to crack big nuts). And maybe not surprisingly, they can be very much like us -manipulative (finally we know where from it came ). 

Chimps have quite advanced "intelligence" and amazingly sophisticated skills. They certainly deserve the top position in the animal world - although we still associate the "brute force" of lions as the justification for their title of King.

Apes offspring (let’s call them here “kids”) are another story and frankly even more familiar to us. The pregnancy of female Apes lasts between 8 and 9 months, and in a big contrast to other mammals, they take care of their kids for long 4 to 5 years. It’s a lengthy childhood giving them a chance to play, enjoy the safety but also learn social and survival skills so much needed in the wilderness. 

Well, now it may be clear why humans need much longer learning periods – surviving in our “Urban Jungles” and often surrounded by “Wolves” seems to be a much bigger challenge. 

Orangutan turned his back to me :-(. It seems they also do not like their "cousins" ....

But I'm not giving up easily... :-)

Anyhow, enjoy the company of Great Apes. Please note that you do not have to feel any “ancestral relationship” to them, just feel free to embrace them as they are. And let’s face it – if they only knew who we really are (as human beings), most likely they will vigorously reject any association with us! And I will not blame them for that!

I hope that you appreciate the privilege to observe these exotic Apes in the Loro Parque (Tenerife, Canary Island) in a habitat closely resembling their own, graciously offered by Mother Nature long time ago…. 

As one could say – and then humans came, and the rest is history ….  

Mandrill - they all have colorful front (face) and the "rear" part of the body....

Mandrills are closely related to baboons. They live in large groups in tropical rainforests of Equatorial Africa

Go back to the main path in the  --> Loro Parque


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