Lisa Putman

Joined November 2007

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Silverback Lowland Gorilla
Critically Endangered

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Tribe: Gorillini

This is Mwelu, a male silverback gorilla of the Memphis Zoo.

Lowland Gorillas are highly Intelligent. Many gorillas have been observed exhibiting behaviors which require a high degree of intellegence. One example is a female gorilla exhibiting tool use by using a tree trunk as a support whilst fishing. The skeleton of a gorillas are closely related to humans and are considered highly intelligent. A few individuals in captivity, such as Koko, have been taught a subset of sign language.

The following observations were made by a team led by Thomas Breuer of the Wildlife Conservation Society in September 2005. Gorillas are now known to use tools in the wild. A female gorilla in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo was recorded using a stick as if to gauge the depth of water whilst crossing a swamp. A second female was seen using a tree stump as a bridge and also as a support whilst fishing in the swamp. This means that all of the great apes are now known to use tools.

In September 2005, a two and a half year old gorilla in the Republic of Congo was discovered using rocks to smash open palm nuts inside a game sanctuary. While this was the first such observation for a gorilla, over forty years previously chimpanzees had been seen using tools in the wild, famously ‘fishing’ for termites. It is a common tale among native peoples that gorillas have used rocks and sticks to thwart predators, even rebuking large mammals. Great apes are endowed with a semi-precision grip, and certainly have been able to use both simple tools and even weapons, by improvising a club from a convenient fallen branch.

This is Mwelu who resides in the Memphis Zoo. He has recently appeared on the Rachael Ray show being declared her Biggest Fan

See how an 8-year-old discovered a gorilla named Mwelu who loves to watch Rachael’s show from his den at the Memphis Zoo! When Rachael finds out that it’s Mwelu’s birthday, she sends along a special message for her biggest fan.

Artwork Comments

  • Warren. A. Williams
  • Rosie Appleton
  • naturelover
  • Cheri  McEachin
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  • Sheila Smith
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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