LORI DUNN SCRATCHBOARD ART
promoting conservation through artistic efforts
27 x 30
Throughout my prior zoo keeping career at the Toronto Zoo I had the privilege of working with some amazing animals as well as some dedicated co-workers. One of those was the senior gorilla keeper Vanessa Phelan, whose dedication to not only gorillas, but animals of all species, was unmatched throughout her years at the zoo. It was working with Vanessa, that I was introduced to looking after these remarkable animals. One of these gorillas was born in 1991, the year I started working at the zoo. By the time I was working in the gorilla area he was a youngster, and as I recall, quite mischievous! Fast forward many years to 2017 and I was visiting the Cincinnati zoo's gorilla enclosure when I recognized a familiar name. There, as a magnificent silverback, was "Jomo", the youngster that was part of Toronto zoo's gorilla family years earlier.
The sexual dimorphism exhibited with gorillas is pronounced. Males are about 200 lbs heavier than females and have a crest on their skull that serves as an anchor where large jaw muscles attach. At around age 13, the hair across the shoulders and back of males becomes a whitish grey color. Only one silverback becomes the dominant animal in a troop, his presence highly respected as protector of the group. Jomo is a Western lowland gorilla, one of four gorilla subspecies facing declining populations in Africa. Habitat loss from mining and logging, poaching for bush meat, human warfare, disease, and infertility are just some of the main threats to populations.