Humans are the only hominids that walk upright. But a Western lowland gorilla named Ambam is making an effort to change that trend. Ambam lives with a bachelor group of gorillas at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, England. As Msnbc.com reports, his trainer, Johanna Watson, recently filmed the animal strolling upright on his hind legs through the park. She posted the clip on YouTube, where the 21-year-old Ambam soon become an Internet sensation with almost 1 million hits.
Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. A group lives at the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, which is run by The Aspinall Foundation. Phil Ridges is a gorilla keeper at the park. As Ridges told Msnbc.com, it’s not uncommon for gorillas to occasionally walk on their hind feet. But the 495-pound Ambam is unusual in his ability to do so. According to Ridges, “We think he might use it to get a height advantage to look over the wall when keepers come to feed him, and standing up can also help him in looking for food generally in his enclosure as it gives him a better vantage point.”
Apparently, walking upright is a skill shared by Ambam’s family. As Ridge tells it, the gorilla’s father has been seen walking upright. Further, “Ambam also has a full sister, Tamba, and a half sister … who also sometimes stands and walk in the same way.”
Western lowland gorillas are native to Africa, preferring the heavy rainforests of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo and nearby areas. They tend to reside in communities of 30 or more with a dominant older adult male at the helm. Biologists refer to these communities as troops. A troop can otherwise consist of younger males with a few females and their offspring. While experts say that these gorillas are usually calm, they can show aggression. In fact, a younger male may challenge the alpha by throwing things, beating his chest and standing upright.
Check out the video of Ambam: