Situated near the town of Hythe in Kent, the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park houses many endangered creatures.
The park was purchased by gambling magnate John Aspinall in 1973. Here, he housed and bred endangered animals, hoping to increase their numbers. Since passing away in 2000, his son, Damian Aspinall has continued to carry on that legacy.
Today, Port Lympne is still home to many endangered creatures, most notably housing the largest breeding herd of black rhinos in the UK. But still, their biggest attraction is their massive gorilla enclosure— the biggest in the entire world.
Of the Port Lympne gorilla population, Ambam is a fan favorite for one of his quirky tricks.
Ambam was born at the Aspinalls’ first zoo back in April of 1990. When he was one year old, the Aspinall Foundation says he got ill with a serious illness and had to be taken away from his mother for care. Upon his recovery, he was introduced into another group of gorillas with whom he’s lived ever since.
Back in 2010, however, Ambam went completely viral when he was captured engaging in some very human-like behavior.
As one of our closest animal relatives, it’s no surprise to see gorillas acting like us occasionally— but this particular scene is downright reminiscent of Planet of the Apes. Ambam’s father would do the exact same trick, so it’s unclear if he picked it up from his dad or simply from observing the humans around him.
You see, for the most part, Ambam acts like a regular gorilla. Lounging around in the sun, eating delicious plants, and traipsing on his knuckles. But occasionally, he does something that makes everyone do a double-take.
According to zookeepers, the six-foot-tall gorilla is often seen walking upright around the enclosure, using his back two feet.
Ambam strolling around like a human is quite the sight to be seen. It’s amazing yet a bit of scary when we’re reminded of how similar we really are. As mentioned, zoo staff say Ambam’s father also used to exhibit the same behavior. So it’s unclear if he learned it from daddy or simply from observing the people around. Interestingly enough, his sister’s been observed walking upright too, but she doesn’t do it as often as Ambam.
This past March, another gorilla went viral when he was captured doing the same thing.
Louis, an 18-year-0ld gorilla from the Philadelphia Zoo garnered worldwide attention when he was seen jaunting around his enclosure like a full-grown man. Michael Stern, a curator at the zoo, told CBS News:
“Gorillas will occasionally stand up for a few seconds or walk a couple of steps.”
“But what we see Louis doing is really walking clear across the yard, and that’s quite special.”
LiveScience said Ambam started standing to see over walls and to carry food. Interestingly, Louis seems to stand for similar reasons. Stern says Louis will often stand while carrying tomatoes, so he doesn’t crush them. He’ll also do it more when the yard is muddy, simply because the cleanly gorilla doesn’t like getting his hands dirty. Because we’re so closely related, experts say these gorillas can provide insight into how human started walking upright, as well.
Stern said he’s not surprised the videos of these gorillas have gone viral.
In the interview with CBS News, he said: “Gorillas are such intriguing animals, and you can tell immediately when you look into their eyes that they are so similar to us, that they are so intelligent. And yet, there is something so animalistic about them and powerful.”
“So, when you see one acting even more human by walking upright like that, it just makes you realize wow, those are pretty amazing animals.”
“The world is amazing. Nature is amazing.”
Watch the incredible footage below.
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