Lesson from a Gorilla



Spend even a brief period of time watching wildlife and one can’t help but be amazed.  Watching animals live their lives without the restraints we humans adapt to govern our existence is a breath of fresh air.  Wild animals make little or no effort to be on their best behavior when viewed by humanity.  It’s often in these moments where animals teach humans the greatest lessons.


Too often people excuse away bad behavior and encourage its continuance.  Animals tend to nip poor behavior immediately and seldom re-allow its continued performance.  I’m not saying people should go around biting each other when they disagree but maybe directing bad behavior in a more positive vein is a possibility.


I seldom go to zoos anymore.  In younger days seeing the wild animals was a thrill and brought much excitement to a young boy.  Not today.  Zoos represent sadness to me.  Modern prisons where animals go serve life sentences for doing nothing except being themselves.  Living lives of monotony and the drag of having humanity watch them endure such confinement is just too much to endure for me.


With this background in mind, I visited a zoo a few years back and walked around the grounds staring at the miserable animals cope with what had become their lives.  There was a look of dreariness in their eyes and I imagine much anger in their hearts as well.  The playful exuberance was not witnessed.  Chasing, climbing, and swinging were also sadly missing.


A crowd of teenagers found the zoo to be a place to unleash primitive desires to show these animals how dumb and helpless they were.  Going en-masse from cage to cage teasing and challenging helpless animals who could not even offer a response.  Except…the gorilla.  He was angry.  Had no interest in welcoming any viewers to his enclosure and hoped just one person would get just a little too close to the edge.  Those same teenagers thought him the perfect foil to their games.  Rushing the cage bars, hollering, mimicking, throwing items into his den, and generally acting stupid.  The gorilla was not amused at all.


The gorilla would run swiftly towards them making aggressive sounds hoping to stop their menacing ways.  This didn’t work out.  He began throwing items in the enclosure against the rails which made a thunderous sound.  Each time the teenagers would be challenged they seem to get bolder and louder.  Finally the gorilla could take no more.  He wandered slowly to the back of his den.  Where he sat motionless starring off into space.  The gorilla had given up; he meekly starred at his tormentors as they shouted their victory as if this was a cause for celebration.


This gorilla seemed to make a peculiar facial expression and his frown seemed to slowly turn into a mischievous grin.  He was plotting something.  This gorilla was no stranger to revenge and today would be his day.  That funny look on his face was formed due to the large pile of squat that now lay beneath him.  He continued his strategy of calmness while the abuse continued from just outside the bars that prevented his freedom.  He stayed still.


And then if on cue, he casually scooped up a huge pile of his previous meal that seemed much less appetizing today and looked at it.  The teenagers went wild considering this poor creature’s strange action.  Then, in a blur this gorilla charged to the front of his cage and covered the teenagers with a foul substance that he had just gotten rid of.  There they stood striped in a disgusting brown slush…smelling just plain vile.  The gorilla had his revenge and we were his witness.  What a terrific ending to a dreadfully dreary outing at the zoo.  I imagine those teenagers thought twice before engaging in that kind of behavior again.


What an important lesson learned from a gorilla.  A new perspective on the value of life provided to the teenagers for only the cost of some gorilla squat.  If only all lessons in life came that cheaply.


So just work on being kind.  It really stinks when we are mean to others.


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