Tuesday, September 15, 2009

L.A. Zoo: Gorillas and the mist

See that glass in the above photo? However many inches thick it is -- and it can't be more than a few -- it was the only thing last week standing between CC and a charging Silverback gorilla.

Talk about a freak out -- on my part, that is.

All the other surrounding parents apparently had made peace with being among temperamental wild animals. Me? Not so much.

When CC and I visited the L.A. Zoo over Labor Day weekend, we were excited to see whatever animals were rousing themselves despite the scorching Southern California heat. Some animals rallied -- yay giraffes! -- while others shamelessly gave into laziness -- *cough* lion *cough*.

The gorillas -- one male named Kelly, in particular -- were not letting the heat get in the way of a good rumble in the faux jungle.

While CC and I were walking over to the Campo Gorilla Reserve, we heard a ruckus as the male of the pack galloped over to the other end of its area. Onlookers practically knocked each other over to get a better view.

According to a zoo official who was on the scene, this hefty guy was just asserting his gorilla manhood around town. It was amazing to see just how huge he was -- and how powerful.

CC and I then walked around to the area with the glass wall. The male was over at the other end, so we were just observing the females and the grassy surroundings.

Just then, I heard that familiar galloping and saw Kelly bounding for the glass -- and CC was the only one standing inches away from it.

My reaction might have looked ridiculous to everyone around me, but I scooped her up and held her close. It was totally instinctive. And I'm sure Mama Gorilla would have done the same thing.

Kelly didn't seem to mean any harm. In fact, he didn't seem to notice the 20 or so people watching him mere feet away. He sat back, took a load off, probably enjoying some down time after taking the necessary steps on Labor Day to show everyone who's boss.

And for those of us on the other side of the fence who were trying to beat the heat ourselves -- the zoo was kind enough to provide misting fans.

And, boy, did we enjoy that. No chest-pounding required.

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