The Western Lowland Gorilla lives in montane, primary and secondary
forests and lowland swamps in central Africa where they eat around
19 kg of roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, tree bark and pulp which
is provided for in the thick forests. Their black skin along with
coarse black hair that covers their entire body except for the face,
ears, hands, and feet. At the largest, they can stand at 1.5-1.8
m tall and weigh 140-270 kg. They travel within a home range averaging
8-45 sq Km and usually go as far as 5-3 km per day in family groupings
of 4 to 8 members in each. The leader organizes group activities,
like eating, nesting, and traveling in their home range. Females
do not reach sexual maturity until the age of 8 or 9 when they can
give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months.
The infants ride on their mothers' backs from the age of four months
through the first two or three years of their lives and can be dependent
on their mother for up to five years. Their intelligence can be
seen through their ability to fashion tools by selecting branches,
remove projections such as leaves and bark, and adapting their length
to the depth of the holes. Koko, a trapped gorilla mastered more
than 1,000 signs in order to communicate with her human captors.
A number of factors threaten their extinction. They are hunted illegally
for their skins and meat in Africa and captured to be sold to zoos,
and they are affected by deforestation, farming, grazing, and the
expanding human settlements that cause forest loss.
"Listen, Lewis," I said, "you've got to spend
less time around the little girl. People are beginning to talk!"
To which he responded, "I can't! She's inspiring me to write
this incredible story that I believe will one day make me famous."
"You're going to wind up famous for something else if you don't
watch out!" I said, but he just shook his head--
walked off to where Alice was sitting beneath a tree. . .
Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays
Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San
Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared
in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in
Serving House Journal, Sick Lit, Unscooped Bagel, Mocking Heart Review,
Kairos, Dead King, Ink In Thirds, Tigershark, Drunken Llama, DogPlotz,
Vending Machine Press, Third Wednesday, Bookends Review, The Vein, Revolution
John, Futures Trading and many others.