Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Little "R & R" at the Dallas Zoo

Yesterday was ExxonMobil Science Day at the Dallas Zoo.  mr. and mrs. mil10 were there for professional development opportunities and EK was able to attend as well.  Fun for the whole family!  Clearly the best part of the day was our visit to the gorilla habitat.  We looked and looked, stopping by each viewing area, until we finally found a view of a gorilla.  We were lucky to see one very close to the glass viewing area.  As we walked closer we could tell that it was eating. 

A hungry gorilla.

How lucky we were! There were hardly any other people around.  We were able to get really close to the window.

It is sitting up and looking around now. I guess it is full.

Wait a minute. Look. Oh, no. Now the gorilla is bending over.  What will it do next?

Vomit!  Is the gorilla sick?

Wait a minute. Look. Yes, it is now eating its own vomit. Yum.  It does not look sick or unhappy though.

It is sitting up and looking around now. I guess it is full. Oh, no. Now it is bending over.

Vomit again. Yuck!  This time it started picking out the big chunks by hand and eating those first.

Is that normal?  According to, the website for the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington:
Although not seen in wild gorillas, regurgitation and reingestion (R & R) of food is common in zoos. It doesn’t cause any medical problems, and it isn’t a sign of poor health. In the wild, gorillas eat large quantities of high-fiber, relatively low-calorie foods such as fruits, leaves, herbs and bark, which are difficult to duplicate in zoos... Because zoo diets are more nutritious (concentrated), the amount of food in a zoo diet is less. Due to this, zoo gorillas may still “feel” hungry and develop the habit of re-eating their food. R & R has never been observed in the wild. Though all our gorillas do some R & R, it is infrequent... WPZ and other zoos are working to provide zoo gorillas with more food like their natural diet. Zookeepers call this food “browse,” and it includes cut branches and herbaceous vegetation. Browse, hay and food puzzles are just some of the ways in which keepers try to discourage R & R.
A quick search on resulted in almost thirty videos when searching for gorilla eat vomit.  Go ahead, click one.  You will laugh.  You will be disgusted.  You probably won't be hungry for tomato soup.

The next time you are at the zoo, look to see if the gorillas are having their version of R & R.  We all deserve a little every now and then, don't we?  As for the mil10s, having made two trips to the zoo in one year, we are ready for "R & R" in Florida. Fewer than sixty days of waiting!

1 comment:

  1. I would have to say that these are much more graphic than my gorilla photos from the Ft Worth zoo during mating season over spring break this year... You definitely were determined to capture the moment.