Humans and gorillas may look and live quite differently, but we share a whopping 98% of the same genes. Of all mammals on Earth, only the bonobo chimpanzee is closer to humans in terms of genetic makeup.
A viral video of an interaction with a gorilla mom at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston has people marveling at the maternal similarities we share with the primates. The video shows Emmelina Austin kneeling in front of the glass barrier of the gorilla enclosure, holding her sleeping 5-week-old son, Canyon. The gorilla mom, Kiki, who gave birth to her own son, Pablo, via c-section in October, comes and sits right up close to Austin, gazing at the newborn and gently touching the glass as if she wants to touch the baby.
The video, shared by Emmelina's husband Michael Austin, shows Kiki sitting close to Canyon for nearly five minutes. At one point, she moves her body out of the way as if to show off her own baby, who is standing behind her. It's almost like you can hear her saying, "Enjoy this sleepy newborn phase while it lasts. Soon he'll be running around like my little rascal here."
"Her face was just so in love," Austin told News Center Maine. "She was showing her baby my baby."
"I was just in awe," she said. "Trying to pet his face through the glass, and trying to hold his hand ... just the most beautiful thing. You could see the emotion in her eyes."
The whole video is just incredibly sweet.
Mother shares unique maternal bond with gorilla (FULL VIDEO) www.youtube.com
Of course, the sweetness of the interaction is colored by the controversy of keeping primates in captivity. Some people feel that keeping any animals in captivity is wrong and have ethical issues with zoos in general. However, the reality is often not so simple. For one, interactions like this one can lead people to care more about gorillas in the wild, as people see up close how connected we are.
Many animals that are kept in captivity are unable to safely be released into the wild, and observing and studying animals in zoos can help scientists learn how to improve the lives of their counterparts in the wild. In addition, focused breeding programs in some zoos have led to the successful reintroduction of endangered species to the wild and increased numbers that were dwindling close to extinction. As Dr. Robin Gannert, president and CEO of the American Human Association, wrote, "Blunt and sweeping indictments of zoos and aquariums fail to account for how ethical institutions enrich and ultimately protect the lives of animals, both in human care and in the wild. Responsible zoos and aquariums exist to facilitate and promote the conservation of animals." Zoos also work in concert with conservation groups such as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, which is one of the most well-known gorilla advocacy organizations in the world.
Franklin Park Zoo announced in March that a new $8.1 million gorilla habitat will be unveiled this summer, giving the zoo's six gorillas a 360,000 cubic foot space to enjoy. Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, and cooperative, inter-zoo programs like the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) help ensure the survival of endangered species in zoos and aquariums as well as support conservation efforts in the wild.
"We are thrilled to open the new outdoor gorilla exhibit, which will be an enriching experience not just for the gorillas, but for our guests as well," said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO in a statement. "We want to reach people through their hearts to build empathy for wildlife and habitats. As you observe the tender moments between a gorilla mom and her baby, or gorilla siblings playing together, you develop a better understanding of the family dynamics and social structure of these animals. Through this opportunity, guests can also better understand the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem health."
However people feel about animals in zoos, this interaction between Kiki and baby Canyon should prompt all of us to do more to protect these magnificent creatures.
- Watch this gorilla use sign language to warn humans about their ... ›
- See photos of adorable baby gorillas named in a ceremony created ... ›
- Why are the gorillas in this super-cute viral selfie posing like humans ... ›
The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.
Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.
Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.
Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash
The international nonprofit
CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.
"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."
Nunn believes a comprehensive vaccination program needs to be sufficiently funded to not only acquire enough vaccines to inoculate people who may be missed otherwise, but also to ensure transportation, delivery, and administration of the vaccines. For every $1 in supply, $5 is required for delivery costs, she says.
"2021 finds us at a crossroads. One road leads from pandemic to endemic – and what some may see as 'acceptable apathy' where the lives of the vulnerable in low-income countries are deemed less valuable... "The other road is built on understanding the true cost of vaccines and the human cost of failing to deliver vaccines to the most vulnerable, and a joint commitment by all who walk it together to equity, equality, and human dignity. Our destination is a place where each of us is safe because all of us are safe," says Nunn.
The best interests of everyone on the planet are served by an investment in comprehensive global vaccination. For 75 years, CARE has been doing lifesaving work in the global community—and while the fight against Covid is far from over, the organization invites everyone to commemorate just how far we've come.
On Tuesday, May 11, CARE will host An Evening With CARE with Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others, to mark the 75th anniversary of this amazing organization and take stock of the work that lies ahead. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.
- COVID vaccine misinformation is out of hand. Let's examine some of ... ›
- The co-creator of the COVID-19 vaccine says they are now working ... ›
- We talked with the first American to get the COVID-19 vaccine and ... ›