Thursday, May 23, 2002
Zoo opens gorilla exhibit today
Louisville attraction will offer simulated journeys into Africa
By Lori Burling
The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE Frank recently moved with his family to four lush, green acres in Jefferson County, but there's no minivan sitting in the drive just a broken-down tour bus that has seen the wilds of Africa.
Frank is a Western lowland gorilla who is part of the Louisville Zoo's new $15 million Gorilla Forest exhibit that opens today. Frank, two adult females and three young gorillas came to the forest in March. Two of their neighbors from their prior home Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago joined them last week.
Madini, a young female, plays in a tree at the Louisville Zoo's $15 million Gorilla Forest exhibit, which opens today.|
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
A private guided tour in the wild is one place you're guaranteed to see a gorilla that's what we've tried to create here, said John Walczak, assistant director of the Louisville Zoo.
After passing the abandoned bus and the African Outpost a last stop for gas and food tour groups will embark on a simulated journey into Africa in search of the gorillas and two pygmy hippos, an added feature to the exhibit.
Visitors will follow hoof and knuckle prints through a fog-ridden, misty trail surrounded by trees and bamboo. The first chance to see Frank or a member of his family is the Mudi Bai a 16,500-square-foot area of land including five different types of grass for the vegetarian family. Such a clearing is typical in tropical forests of west and central Africa, according to Mr. Walczak.
Before arriving at the indoor home of the gorillas, tourists will visit Hippo Falls, the pygmy hippo exhibit. The exhibit includes four animal stalls and an underwater hippo viewing area. Educational activities line the trails to help visitors learn more about preserving animal life.
This is a conservation project; we want to educate visitors about conservation efforts that can be made, Mr. Walczak said. We're trying to maintain a healthy family group to guarantee the species another 100 years.
The gorilla family that just moved in includes three males 37-year-old Frank, 3-year-old Bengati and 5-year-old Jelani and five females 36-year-old Debbie, 43-year-old Helen, 4-year-old Mumbali and 5-year-olds Madini and Rollie.
The gorillas are on loan from the Chicago zoo while it remodels its ape house. Four more gorillas will arrive at the Louisville zoo in the fall, according to Steve Taylor, general curator for the zoo.
Each gorilla family is led by an adult male, known as a silverback. Frank is the silverback of the Louisville family. In that role, he makes important decisions such as meal, rest and play times, Mr. Taylor said.
He sets the tone for the gorillas. You can see he's very comfortable here, Mr. Taylor said as Frank rolled onto his back, stretching his legs and arms which reach about 3 to 4 feet above the floor.
The gorillas' indoor home includes a 9,300-square-foot building divided into six rooms built in a circular format. Each room is divided by 14-foot-tall glass barriers. There are only two other zoos worldwide that have the circular homes for the apes, Mr. Taylor said.
Holiday forecast: More on the road
Performing arts center planned for Blue Ash
Can Odd Fellows be saved?
Tickets not I-75 answer, police say
$1.2M cable barriers planned to make stretch safer
Councilman accused of discrimination
Former football player accuses city of coverup
Judge agrees to seal record of Wehrung
Loveland picks superintendent
New simulator no dummy
Police officers, citizens honored for teamwork
Roach: Seal old reports
Sabis audit stymied by missing documents
Seven schools win national honor
Tristate A.M. Report
UC votes to renew NKU reciprocity
HOWARD: Some Good News
RADEL: Watered down?
Deerfield plans senior housing site
Defense to begin in cemetery case
Lebanon opens its own city phone service
Ohio Senate approves drug discounts for seniors
Six employees file lawsuits
State budget plan still elusive
Traficant hires lawyers to challenge jury selection
Worker tells of 'label stacking'
Wright-Pat privatizes base housing
Budget crunch squeezes teachers
Diocese defends accused bishop
Ft. Wright to settle suit over Wal-Mart
GOP seizes on land dispute as campaign issue
Hazmat funding awaits response
Mansion renovations to begin
Zoo opens gorilla exhibit today