Saturday, July 28, 2007

Killings of Mountain Gorillas in Congo prompt UN Probe

If you saw the 1988 movie "Gorillas In the Mist" starring Sigourney Weaver about the true-life story of Dian Fossey and her work to save the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park on the border of Rwanda and the Congo - then you know these creatures - they are the same species of gorilla that Fossey died protecting in 1985. It is inconceivable to me that twenty years later and despite the hard work and dedication of entire nations - these magnificent animals are now relentlessly slaughtered to make a political statement. What could be more arrogant and telling about the human race than the fact that we have little conscious objection to a few people destroying in one life time what the magnificent forces of evolution took millions of years to create. Regardless of your religious beliefs you have to understand that there is absolutely no possibility, whatsoever, that there exists a God that would bless or even condone these destructive forces. Take that to the collection plate, please.

The story of Dian Fossey and the endangered mountain gorillas has always been one close to my heart. In 1979, while working as a high-school intern at the Oklahoma City Zoo - I would watch one particular woman for several days in a row observe our Mountain Gorilla Exhibit for what seemed hours on end. Admiring what I thought was her overt- fascination with these gorillas I finally struck up a conversation with her, despite her unflinching focus and perceived aloofness. It turned out that she was actually "some sort-of gorilla expert" invited by the OKC Zoo to properly identify the species of gorilla in the Mountain Gorilla Exhibit. Her name: Dian Fossey. Obviously this meant nothing to this young kid from Oklahoma whose fascination with ungulates possibly precluded any expertise on gorillas -- but I will never forget that moment. Much to her disappointment and that of the zoo's -- Dian Fossey concluded that there were no Mountain Gorillas living in captivity - despite the hopes that the OKC Zoo had somehow inherited one.
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Read: the CNN report on the shooting deaths of mountain gorillas.

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