Thursday, August 20, 2009

Did I Tell You The One About the Gorilla?

My husband and I were hosting Duck and two of her friends to a day at the Metro Zoo. One of the main attractions for the girls was the primate families - monkeys, orangutans, gorillas. I really like to watch them, too, with the way they interact in their enclosures. It really is like watching a family.

We reached to gorilla's outdoor enclosure just at lunchtime - for them and for us. So we decided to watch the action of their meal before digging into our picnic basket. What a show we got!

The authority of the dominant male was unmistakable because only he was allowed to eat - all the other gorillas, teenagers and one mama with baby, were sitting around the perimeter of the enclosure while the king gorged himself on the delivered food. There was some dissension in the ranks as one teenager (probably male) snuck a handful of celery and headed to the highest perch to eat as discreetly as he could. Otherwise, everyone seemed to know that there was no eating until the king was finished.

It wasn't any wonder why he was the king. He outweighed every other gorilla in that enclosure by several hundred pounds. He was the king of the castle and all the men standing around were making comments about it and elbowing their wives about how everything seemed to be in order with this system.

In the mean time, the zoo attendants were on the far side of the enclosure with some type of branches that must be a tasty treat because they were trying to entice the mama and her baby to eat some. The king took great exception to their attempts to override his authority and took a running leap at one of the staff - she was completely protected behind the fence line, but still fell back on her behind in shock and fear of this 500lb+ animal charging her. The whole enclosure shook from his body weight slamming against it in attempt to get at the staff. As a final note he grabbed the branch as his treat and headed back to the center of the feeding area - quite pleased with his performance. All the human watchers were duly impressed with his kingship.

After only a few moments the staff were again pushing branches through and mama had been inching her way over - always on the perimeter. When she and her baby reached the branches, she nonchalantly reached and pulled the branch to her with little to no notice by the king. The baby had one taste of the leaves on the branch and lost all sense of fear for the king - he jumped from mama's belly to the fence and actively began eating.

Well, the king may have been willing to ignore the actions of his wife (mama), because she knew enough to be discreet. However, the outward defiance of a the baby eating before permission was given was too much for him. In seconds of mama reaching for the baby to pull him away from the fence, the king was snorting and rampaging toward them just as he had done to the staff member - only there was no fence to stop this attack.

Every parent standing around the enclosure with us had the same thought at the same time, 'this gorilla is going to hurt or kill the baby - we've got to get our kids away from the view!'. My husband and I were making our way to step in front of the girls as other parents were corralling their kids to move away from what looked to become a gruesome scene. Then we all heard it. The baby let out a horrified screamed that raised the hair on my neck - this was it!

Then another strange sound rose from the midst of the snorting aggression of the king and crying hopelessness of the baby. Anger. Deep, maternal, anger. Turning to look, everyone focused on was the sudden change in events within the enclosure. Mama had heard her babies cries. Mama wasn't happy!

The king was running for his life! Mama, with baby attached again to her furry belly, was inches behind the king with a murderous look on her face. The king knew he wouldn't live to reign another day if he stopped. The teenagers in the enclosure were whooping it up - literally, laughing and chattering and swinging with delight to see the king getting a strip tore off of him.

And as quickly as it started, it was over. The king sitting in a corner now, sulking, and all the other gorillas eating with gaiety! Every man in the audience felt sorry for the big fella - every woman was laughing at the calamity.

It was funny!

However, I couldn't help but think how this could easily be transferred into North American homes. The husbands, who now cower in their lazyboy chairs because mama ain't happy!

I know we're talking about gorillas. I also know that any feminist watching the same scene that day would have said, 'See, it's natural for women to seek authority in the family. It's obvious men can be brutish when given the opportunity.'

All I have to say is, those were gorillas. We are God's children. Never should those two be placed in the same category! Never do I want to be compared to gorilla mama who was teaching her child to disobey, even discreetly. Never do I want my husband to feel it is easier, and safer, to simply let me be the head of the house.

Lord, let me never forget that!

1 comment:

Mrs. Parunak said...

What a story! And it's interesting, too, that the whole domestic dispute was started by an outside temptation to a "treat" (something to be lusted after) combined with a lack of vigilance on the part of the patriarch. This is very similar to how feminism spreads in human families, too.