I had the good fortune to go to my brothers wedding in Uganda in 2017. After the wedding we went on a safari, spending many hours in a bumpy 4WD truck driving through the savannas and onwards to the hills and beautiful lakes of the surrounding area.
We had the enormous privilege of a hike through the forest to sit beside a family of gorillas taking a break under a forest tree. It was just like any young family on a picnic. Dad lying down for a rest with the the smallest baby girl playing around him, Mum looking tired and watching the older boys playing. The older boy a little rough with the younger one, playing games, teasing each other and being generally mischievous....watch the video below.
I was struck how they were just like any human family on a day out to the park on a hot day and exuded the same moods, playfulness, watchfulness and boisterous competition at various times and with their interactions with each other.
It made me think about the interactions of a family and the relationships we (and they) have with each other.
Some people think that gorillas are violent and territorial animals, but that is a myth. Quite the opposite, they are gentle and non-territorial primates.
Their family dynamics and political maneuvers are quite complex - in some ways, almost human.
They are basically gentle creatures with individual personalities and rich social lives.
They are generally affectionate with each other and look after each other if injured, they greet each other by touching their noses together and will sometimes even give a reassuring embrace.
Families love and protect each other. If conflicts arise, the silverback (dominant male) is generally the mediator between fighting family members and it is his job to lead the family in their daily travels, find the best food sources and protect the females and the children from danger.
This wonderful, up close experience, made me feel a real connection with our closest relatives and the amazing jungle they live in....can't wait to return.