Posts Tagged ‘uganda’

Meet the Zoo’s Gorillas

Thursday, April 29th, 2010
Kibibi means "little lady" in Swahili. Photo - National Zoological Park.

Kibibi means “little lady” in Swahili. Photo – National Zoological Park.

At the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, our family of Western Lowland Gorillas is growing. Its newest member, Kibibi, born at the zoo on January, 10, 2009, can be found climbing and playing near her mother, 28-year-old Mandara.

Kibibi, who is getting bigger on grapes, bananas, and sweet potatoes, is known for her inquisitive nature. She spends her time hanging out with her acrobatic brother Kojo, but always seems to have her mom in sight.Gorillas are fascinating creatures. Whether you’re watching them at the Zoo, or doing some gorilla trekking on our upcoming adventure in Uganda and Rwanda, there are some simple rules for making the most of your experience.


A mountain gorilla finds a meal in the Ugandan jungle.

First, try not to stare, as a gorilla may see this as aggression and assume you want to fight. Instead, do what the gorillas do – check them out from under lowered brows and glance away quickly as your eyes meet. To avoid intimidating a gorilla, crouch down and make yourself smaller. Try to treat gorillas as you would a small child – avoid sudden movements and loud noises.

For more information on gorillas, see the Zoo’s primate page, or check out our interview with our Mammal Curator, Kris Helgen.

Ready for an adventure? Click for more information on our Uganda and Rwanda Gorilla Safari. Limited space is still available.

What’s the most amazing thing about primates? Please share!

Photo: Gorilla Trekking in Central Africa

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Sometimes, saying “I’ll never be the same again” is a good thing. Gorilla trekking  is a life-changing experience. Little compares to the magic combination of the rainforests of Uganda and Rwanda, up-close views of these endangered animals, and a unique understanding of the 740 mountain gorillas still make their homes in the primeval forests of central Africa. We’re sure you’ll never be the same after this.

What could be more magical than a baby mountain gorilla?

New Year’s Travel Resolutions

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Vietnam’s Evocative Ha Long Bay – a great place to go in 2010

Where do you want to go in 2010? Here are some of our top 2010 picks…

Relaxing in Japan – with tranquil gardens, quiet temples, and the enlightening possibilities of tea.

Tackling the Amazon – for river dolphins, scarlet macaws, and really poisonous frogs.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda -  one of life’s incomprable adventures.

Cruising in Alaska – for kayaking around icebergs, checking out the humpback whales, and sailing Glacier Bay.

Stargazing in Hawaii - for a possible glimpse of the newly discovered super-Earth, and for the search for the real Pandora.

Wherever the new year may take you, we wish you all the best in 2010. Thanks for reading our blog, and for sharing your stories with us!

Gorilla Trekking with Kris Helgen

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Kate Desvenain managed a variety of successful tours as a Smithsonian Journeys Program Manager before following her dreams to Costa Rica. There, she and her husband are building a bed and breakfast from the ground up while getting used to life in the jungle. Here, she interviews renowned mammalogist Kris Helgen about his background and his upcoming gorilla trekking adventure to Uganda and Rwanda .

Kate Desvenain: Kris, you are known for discovering new species of mammals worldwide. Can you tell us about your most exciting discovery, and how you decided what to name it?

Research Zoologist Kris Helgen and a friendly tree kangaroo on a recent expedition.

Research Zoologist Kris Helgen and a friendly tree kangaroo on a recent expedition.

Kris Helgen: Though I go looking for mammals in some of the most remote corners of the globe, sometimes the most startling finds are right under our noses. Three years ago I “discovered” a fantastic new species of bat from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands—not out in the rain forest, but in museum cabinets at the Smithsonian. It’s a giant black bat with a monkey-like face, red eyes, a meter-wide wingspan, and larger teeth than any other bat in the world. Before you succumb to nightmares, I should tell you that it uses its big teeth to crack open nuts and big tropical fruits!

In addition to those found at the Smithsonian, I also found specimens of this species in museums in Sydney, Chicago, and Honolulu. The specimen in Chicago had been in the museum since 1929, the Sydney specimens since the 1930s, and the Smithsonian’s series dated to the Second World War when American troops were stationed in the South Pacific. You might think that such an conspicuous bat could not go overlooked in museums for so long, but there you have it. I named the species Pteralopex flanneryi after my doctoral advisor, Australian scientist and author Tim Flannery, to thank him for many years of scientific mentorship. Its common name is the “Greater Monkey-Faced Bat”. The species survives in the wild today, but only just—it is a highly endangered species that lives only in undisturbed lowland rain forest, is sensitive to hunting, and is extinct in most areas on the four islands on which it occurs. (more…)

Smithsonian News: Baby Gorilla is a Girl

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

The Smithsonian National Zoo’s three-week old baby gorilla, born to mom Mandara (26) and dad Baraka (16) on January 10, is a girl. The unnamed female newborn just may prove to be some competition to beloved adolescent panda Tai Shan!

Photo: NZP

Photo: NZP

Gorilla infants typically stay with their mothers for 3-4 years.  This behavior is consistent for both Lowland Gorillas like Mandara, Baraka, and their baby, and for Mountain Gorillas. Sadly, both species have been hunted and killed in great numbers in the wild and are listed as endangered. In fact, it is estimated that only 740 Mountain Gorillas still remain in the forests of East Africa.

For hardy types, a gorilla trekking adventure to Uganda and Rwanda could be the trip of a lifetime. Can’t travel that far? Just visit the Zoo’s Great Ape House to catch a glimpse of the newest arrival.