It’s pretty obvious that I came around to take her picture after breakfast. This female gorilla decided that, having enjoyed a packed breakfast of fruits and leaves, it was time to take a little morning nap.
Their natural diet in the wild includes berries, leaves, fruit, and even insects and small animals. After rising at dawn to partake of breakfast, it is not uncommon for gorilla groups to nap away the morning hours while the young spend their excess energy playing and socializing with each other. Maybe they know something we don’t?
Naps are well-known to refresh the mind, give yourself energy and relieve anxiety. It’s possible we might learn something from our distant cousins in the primate family tree. Naps are good for us!
Primates always interest me because so often it’s like looking into a simplified version of human behaviors. Often, we humans will act the same way they do, only our behaviors are so wrapped up in ritual and meaning we don’t really notice it. For instance, the older I get, the more I see the wisdom in this “naptime” activity. Seriously, what adult has not fantasized about taking a nap after lunch?
Life is difficult when you’re a gorilla. If you’re not eating, you’re sleeping, putting off the amorous advances of the silverbacks or having to put up with those pesky juniors running everywhere. Those teenagers are just as bad. Imagine a juvenile with the strength of a 300 lb. linesman and an attitude to boot.
Then there is all the grooming and socializing with other members of your group. The females will sit for hours reestablishing social connections with other females and even the silverbacks by the use of touch or grooming for pesky lice or ticks. They also nurse and care for the young and teach them to forage for food.
So, worn out from the earlier day’s activities, our friend lies quietly in her day nest slumbering away the mid morning hours while nearby an older male silverbacks watches with passing curiosity anything that happens in his territory.
As for our slumbering beauty, she sleeps soundly in the warm morning sun completely unconcerned about the events that go on around her, probably dreaming of lunch.
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“Gorilla.” Primates: Facts. Smithsonian National Zoological Park, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2014. <http://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/primates/facts/fact-gorilla.cfm>.