Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Auntie" Evelyn ...


As with all my blogging, please note that what I have written below comes from my observations and public articles I've read or viewed, and not from the LA Zoo itself. My blogs are not affiliated with the Los Angeles Zoo. I am not an expert, only a quiet observer, and reader on great apes. LA Zoo is near my residence and has been a convenient and wonderful place for me to observe these wonderful creatures. I began observing them when I started walking at the LA Zoo for my health. (The zoo's beauty and life kept me motivated to keep walking.) The great apes grabbed my attention, and so I began researching outside articles and videos as I continued to observe these incredible animals. Thus, my blogs.

This is "Evie." I couldn't help but fall in love with her. She is unique, to say the least. Evelyn, born March 7, 1976 at the Los Angeles Zoo, often stops for a moment to make sure I am or other visitors are watching her. She is the star of the LA Zoo, and is the most social of the Lowland Gorillas living there. She often enjoys performing for an audience. She will, at times, imitate visitors blowing kisses, sticking out their tongues, and even a slight wave. Evelyn was born to Bum (born in the wild, died January 23, 1978 at the Los Angeles Zoo) and Kay (born in the wild, died April 11, 1997 at the St. Louis Zoo). Evelyn's offspring is Jim (born August 1, 1987 in the LA Zoo) who is now a troop leader at Denver Zoo. Jim's father was wild born Tzambo who died April 10, 1999 as a result of the combination of severe heart disease and anesthesia. Great apes are very susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, digestive problems, and cancer. And, without the healthcare and dental care provided in zoos, wild apes often die earlier in the wild. (Dental care is important, because in the wild, once their teeth are gone, their health declines quickly.)

Unlike the other gorillas of this family group, she seems very fascinated by the humans who visit her each day. Of course, when she feels like it, young Glenda will check out the visitors and play with the children at the glass. But, Evie seems to thrive on her audience ... she looks at these humans as though she is wondering what makes her different from them. While the other family members go about their business, she will sit at the window or in the middle of all three visitors' openings where she can watch her audience, and they can watch her. She is one of the few gorillas that one can watch directly. Most gorillas take "looking at them in the eyes" as a threat, and don't like it at all. Evelyn, herself, though, often studies the faces, and doesn't seem to mind that we study her face.

In years past, before the new Gorilla exhibit, Evelyn was able to get out of her enclosure several times (from the time she was two). Notice, I didn't use the word "escape." She didn't seem to be "escaping" at all ... she just seemed curious and sometimes went around to the exhibits and watched as a visitor ... or she grabbed onto a keeper, as if to say, "I'm lost ... will you help me?!" After each of her adventures, she was glad to have been returned home where she was safe.

Evie has a bad habit that she taught the other members ... regurgitating and eating it over and over. Gorillas in the wild usually graze and eat throughout the day. But, she is so fascinated by humans that she likes to sit and watch them, and doesn't want to be bothered for too long a time with looking for more food when she can just re-eat what she gathered already. Besides, Kelly is too big a bully when it comes to the lunch smorgasbord. And, since it is too difficult to gather more food by the time Kelly comes out, she gathers as quickly as much as she can handle, hides from Kelly until he passed by on the smorgasbord trail, and then perches for her audience with her lunch. She eats her lunch and watches the people. When she finishes her food, she regurgitates, and eats it again as she watches the people. She can't be bothered with more gathering when there are visitors to see and Kelly to worry about. Though the others have picked up this trick, they don't do it as often, as they busy themselves with walking, gathering more munchies, playing with each other, or spending time together as a family. Of course, Rapunzel does it more than the others, because she doesn't like to move as often ... she'd rather sit.

"Auntie" Evelyn is fairly tolerant of Glenda. She disciplines and spends time with Glenda often. This is so even though Glenda will do anything to irritate Evie at times ... such as bring her dad over to protect her, while she steals Evie's stockpiles of food, or tease Evie mercilessly. For, Kelly will adamantly defend his little Glenda every time, if needed.

Evelyn can be quite a handful for the silverback leader Kelly. Evelyn's own son, Jim, was sent to Denver to be a troop leader. I don't think she quite gets why she has to "obey" this non-relative, even though that is often how it is in the wild since the females never stay with their father's groups. Sometimes Evelyn is stubborn and won't go in for the lunch so that the keepers can go out and spread their lunch safely. And, this makes Kelly so angry, because he loves his lunch time. Other times, Evelyn won't come out after lunch, which also makes Kelly irate, because he wants to know where all of his troop members are at all times.

Evie has a good relationship with Rapunzel. They stay out of each other's way, but will defend each other from Kelly's wrath at times.

Evelyn grabbing as much food as she can handle before Kelly comes by:
Evelyn Catches Kelly's Irritated Look

Evelyn hiding from Kelly as he passes by at lunchtime:
After Peeking, Evelyn Climbs Back Up

Evelyn perched to see her visitors at all 3 exhibit openings:
Evelyn Positioned to See Visitors at Both Openings

Evelyn sitting where she can see the visitors while the others go about their business, only to peeked back and see what she is interested in:
The Troop

The Girls

Evelyn being stared down by Kelly, and then kept company by Glenda while Kelly stares Evie down:
Glenda Tries to Distract Dad

Glenda Keeps Evelyn Company
As you can see, Evie attempted to hide from Kelly's wrath.

Evelyn being bothered by little thief Glenda:
Poor Evelyn

Auntie Evelyn watching over Glenda at Christmas time:
What's in the Box, Auntie Evelyn?!

Evelyn perched for her visitors while she eats her regurgitation:

Evie signing "Feed Me" or else blowing me a kiss:
Evelyn Signing "Feed Me"

Evelyn watching her visitors at the window:
Evelyn Poses for Me

Sweet Evie:
Through the Smudges

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully with the arrival of Alafia, Evie will have a friend with who to hang out with. Also, maybe Kelly will be less harsh on her.