Zoo Atlanta introduces wildlife watchers around the world to a unique opportunity to observe the natural behaviors and daily movements of a troop of western lowland gorillas with the debut of Gorilla Cam, launching on Saturday, July 24. The cam will make its appearance on zooatlanta.org/gorillacam in tandem with a double birthday celebration for silverback Taz and his son Floyd.
Gorilla Cam will provide a view of one of the gorilla habitats at Zoo Atlanta’s renowned Ford African Rain Forest, which is home to four social groups of gorillas living in separate habitats. The camera view will be centered on the home habitat of Taz’s troop.
Floyd celebrates his second birthday on July 24. His father, Taz, turned 32 on July 20. The birthday celebration will take place at 9:45 a.m. at Taz’s troop’s habitat and will be viewable live via the cam.
“Zoo Atlanta is very excited to share Gorilla Cam with people around the world. We expect the cam to be a wonderful educational resource that we hope will help people better understand, appreciate, and connect with western lowland gorillas, which are critically endangered,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “Zoo Atlanta’s gorilla program is one of the foremost in the world, and we look forward to introducing new people to this species, even if they are unable to visit the Zoo.”
Gorillas may be visible on the cam from roughly 9 a.m. to roughly 5 p.m., when they begin moving into their behind-the-scenes area for the night. Like wild gorillas, Taz’s group uses various aspects of this large habitat throughout the day; as their movements through the habitat are dynamic, they may not always be in view of the camera.
Gorilla Cam will offer a chance to observe a host of natural gorilla behaviors. These behaviors are much the same as what would be observed among a troop of gorillas in the wild and include but are not limited to foraging for food, resting, and playing. Early in the morning or at times when the gorillas are indoors, viewers may also see members of the Gorilla Care Team preparing the habitat, scattering food, or placing enrichment items for the gorillas’ use. The care team never shares the same space with the gorillas, so these activities are limited to times when the gorillas are not in the habitat.
Gorilla troops are led by a silverback, the term for an adult male. As is typical of wild gorilla groups, Taz’s troop also includes adult females and their offspring. The troop includes females Kudzoo, Sukari, and Lulu and their offspring Merry Leigh, Mijadala, Anaka, Andi, and Floyd, who is the youngest gorilla at the Zoo and was the 24th gorilla to be born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988.
Zoo Atlanta has a globally recognized program for the care and behavioral study of western lowland gorillas, which are critically endangered. Wild populations have plummeted in recent years as a result of habitat loss, poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, and emerging diseases. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, these combined threats have reduced wild populations by 60 percent, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa.
The Zoo is home to one of North America’s largest populations of gorillas. Research by Zoo Atlanta team members has influenced the care of gorillas in zoos, as well as enhanced the world’s understanding of gorillas, with more than 100 published papers on maternal care, reproduction, social behavior, and cognition. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease across all four great ape taxa: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos.
Zoo Atlanta supports the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Gorilla SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) Program, which focuses expertise within accredited zoos. For more than 20 years, the Zoo has supported its longtime partner in gorilla conservation, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, by providing pro-bono headquarters space, information technology support, and financial resources. The Zoo and the Fossey Fund were among the organizations to host the first-ever World Gorilla Day in 2017.