Research/Care Blog

Behind the Scenes of Silverback Care by Duke Cutter

Ndume has a great sense of humor

Date Added: 2006-09-07
Caregiver Corner:

I approached Ndume’s indoor enclosure I could feel a percussive thump. Another thump, and then another, shattered the stillness of a sunny Woodside afternoon. At first I braced myself for an unhappy silverback acting out. Ndume has good and bad days just like us, except he sometimes has a harder time conveying to us exactly what is bothering him. As I walked up the stairs extending my hand to his doorway I realized that these thumps were occurring at regular 30-second intervals. I took a deep breath and entered.

What I saw next rooted me to the spot. Ndume seemed to glide at me at full speed. Then his accelerated 400 lbs came crashing into the reinforced steel mesh that separated us, THUMP! I stood perfectly still waiting for what was next. Ndume stood up to his full height of approximately 6 feet, and then he did the unexpected; he fell down. Or I should say he flopped down on his back and started rolling in the inch of water that flooded the floor. Two thoughts raced through my mind as Ndume rolled about on the floor: a. what is with all this water? and b. what is with this gorilla? Ndume lapsed into a furious fit of purring, chuckling to himself, splashing like a child in a kiddy pool. He sprang to his feet, moved to the back corner and launched himself at the wall once again. With his arms outspread acting like skis, his mouth wide open like a windsock, Ndume braced for impact, THUMP!

As I stood riveted watching perhaps the most bizarre thing I would ever see, the gorilla ice-capades, Ndume continued rolling and purring in the water. Crushed and torn water bottles lay strewn about Ndume’s room and that’s when it all became crystal clear. Ndume had created the world’s first gorilla slip-and-slide. With nothing else to do besides laugh out loud, I poured out a bottle on the floor and joined in the fun myself.

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