Texas Gorilla Trek Adventure – Gorillas at the Houston Zoo
GRAND OPENING: MAY 22, 2015
by Bernadette Verzosa
A new adventure at the Houston Zoo may be the most fascinating and awesome family activity in town this summer – Houston’s own version of a gorilla trek with seven majestic western lowland gorillas including four silverbacks!
The new habitat Gorillas at the Houston Zoo is designed to look and feel like Central and West Africa, the native land of this highly endangered species. Bamboo and banana trees are scattered around wide meadows, rocky cliffs, twisting vines, even a gathering pool and a 20-foot waterfall. Children may especially enjoy the Forest Trail – an elevated boardwalk from where they can spot the gorillas climbing, playing or munching on favorite treats of carrots, tomatoes and romaine lettuce.
Gorillas are highly social and intelligent. The Houston Zoo’s gorillas are separated into two groups: a family of four and a bachelor troop of three. The groups will alternate between the lush outdoors and a night house with private bedrooms. The family members include 31-year-old ZURI, 25-year-old HOLLI and their 13-year-old daughter SUFI, as well as 40-year-old BINTI. The male pack includes 30-year-old CHAKA, 23-year-old MIKE and 14-year-old AJARI.
“We hope guests visit the gorillas at the Houston Zoo often to witness the beauty of this incredible species, and that the experiences they have inspire them to care about these and all animals in the wild,” says Deborah Cannon, Houston Zoo CEO and president.
There are less than 35,000 western lowland gorillas in the wild. Their native habitat is shrinking because of the expansion of mining, agriculture and illegal hunting. To help improve the health of remaining gorilla populations, the Houston Zoo staff is working with several conservation agencies including the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Conservation Heritage Turambe in Rwanda and the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There are 353 gorillas in 58 Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited institutions.