Read and Do: Meet Angela the Baby Gorilla, Who is Also “Sheltering in Place”

Meet Angela, the first baby western lowland gorilla born at the Los Angeles Zoo in over 20 years!

By the time Angela was just five weeks old, she was already hanging on her mother’s back by herself a big developmental milestone for baby gorillas (In fact, Angela is very advanced for her age!). Angela’s mom, N’djia, shows her off to the other gorillas at the zoo her father Kelly, and aunties Rapunzel and Evelyn.

Though Angela is tiny now, western lowland gorillas can grow up to six feet tall and weigh as much as 420 pounds. They are very intelligent, using tools to help gather food. Some have even been taught sign language by scientists! Just like in the zoo, family units in the wild are comprised of a silverback male with several females and their young. Angela’s species, which is native to the rain and swamp forests of western Africa, is critically endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction, illegal hunting and diseases such as the Ebola virus.

First 5 LA is a proud partner of the LA Zoo. To see videos of Angela, visit the LA Zoo’s website, www.LAZoo.org, or the Zoo’s Twitter account at twitter.com/LAZoo.

Activities:

Talking about Angela the Gorilla and COVID-19

Ebola, a deadly virus, affects both gorillas and humans. Gorillas communicate through touch, hugs and scratches, meaning they easily pass the virus, which has destroyed wild populations. Talk to your child about the COVID-19 pandemic using Angela as an example. Angela is safe to touch and hug her family at home in the zoo, but if she were in the wild during an Ebola outbreak, she would need to practice safe distancing and good hand washing. Ebola isn’t scary for Angela at the zoo, and COVID-19 isn’t scary at home.

Walk like a gorilla!

Gorillas’ powerful arms are much longer than their legs, allowing them to run like Olympic sprinters on their knuckles and feet. Because they have thumbs on both hands and feet, they can grab, pick up and eat with all four limbs. Have your child try walking like a gorilla how fast can they make it across the room? Can they pick up small toys with their toes? What would they do if they had “hands” for feet? What couldn’t they do? What could they do?

Read and Learn!

Koko’s Kitten by Dr. Francine Patterson, Photographs by Ronald H. Cohn

Children of all ages will love this fascinating, true story of a gorilla that uses sign language to ask her handlers for a pet. The photos alone of Koko and her kitten must be seen to be believed.

Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

A simple, illustrated story for toddlers and young children about a mischievous gorilla that sneaks out of his zoo enclosure at bedtime. With few words, this book encourages you and your child to point out details and tell your own stories.

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