I want to say thank you to all the wonderful LIT SOUP readers who commented on the last thread. You all cheered me up immensely, and I wanted to thank you for that wonderful gift. =)
So many things that I want to blog about now! Let's start with gorillas, shall we. Yes, gorillas, those wonderful, intelligent creatures that are part of our family tree. My family has always had a shared love for them; something I suppose that could be dated back to when my parents were dating and my mother would jokingly call my father a "gorilla" (this was the early 70's and he had A LOT of curly brown hair--the pictures scare me =). Regardless of the family obsession's origin, we all love gorillas.
Naturally, when I was a child, my parents bought me the Koko books. You remember Koko the gorilla, right? The one who was taught sign language as a young gorilla, and became one of the first great apes to "communicate" with humans. There's scientific debate over whether the great apes that know sign language or other variants of human speech/language, truly understand the basis of language, but I prefer to think that they do. Gorillas and chimpanzees and other primates all have a remarkable degree of intelligence and potential, which I think is still largely unexplored at this point.
Anyway, back to Koko. She's still alive, you know. She's 35 years old. She has her own website. And she desperately wants to have a baby. The Gorilla Foundation, which is responsible for Koko's care and well-being, has found her a potential mate in the form of Ndume, a silverback who's ten years younger than her. They interact daily, and share some of their living quarters at the foundation's headquarters in Northern California. Yet despite the best efforts of the staff, they've been unable to convince the two of them to mate. Gorillas, just like humans, are notoriously picky about who they mate with, and under what conditions the mating occurs. The foundation staff are currently trying to construct new "private" areas for the two gorillas, as they wait for badly-needed donations to come in for the new gorilla preserve that they're constructing on the island of Maui.
What it all boils down to is that the Gorilla Foundation needs money and equipment. They've been involved in an ongoing research project exploring gorilla communication, ever since Koko was first taught sign language as a young gorilla. They've provided valuable scientific data to the zoological community, and helped to change the public perception of the great apes. If like me, you fell in love with the Koko books (as either a child or a parent reading them to a child), then I urge you to give a little something to the foundation. In the end, we are all primates, and more closely related than we've ever thought.
And hell, if Koko can get pregnant (and gorillas do have a biological clock too), then she'll be able to have a gorilla baby of her own. And what if she then voluntarily teaches her child the sign langauge that she herself was taught? Wouldn't that be amazing? I think it'd be damn cool. =)