Courtesy of Taz Lulu Floyd / Zoo Atlanta
Like so many things today, you don't need to leave your home to experience something remarkable (wildlife included). Zoo Atlanta announced Thursday the launch of Gorilla Cam, a livestream highlighting its western lowland gorillas.
Gorilla Cam debuts July 24, doubling as a birthday celebration for gorilla Taz and his son Floyd. Floyd turns 2 that day, while his father turned 32 on July 20. A celebration for the duo goes live via camera at 9:45 a.m. Floyd is the youngest gorilla at the zoo and the 24th born there since 1988.
But the live stream isn't limited to the birthday festivities. Viewers can see the gorillas as early as 9 a.m. EST until around 5 p.m. daily when they begin settling in for the night. Their habitat is expansive, meaning they may not be captured on camera at all times. Between witnessing the gorillas' behaviors like playing and foraging, the stream will also feature the Gorilla Staff Team preparing the habitat with food and enrichment items.
"Zoo Atlanta's gorilla program is one of the foremost in the world," Jennifer Mickelberg, Ph.D., vice president of Collections and Conservation, says in a news release. "We look forward to introducing new people to this species, even if they are unable to visit the zoo."
Zoo Atlanta contains one of the largest populations of gorillas in North America. Their Ford African Rain Forest is home to four gorilla social groups living in separate habitats within the zoo. Gorilla Cam will primarily broadcast Taz's troop and habitat. Taz is the silverback of his troop, meaning he is the leading adult male primate. The troop also includes female gorillas Kudzoo, Sukari, and Lulu and their offspring Merry Leigh, Mijadala, Anaka, Andi, and Floyd.
Western lowland gorillas are a critically endangered species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates wild populations have shrunk by 60 percent in the last 25 years, with parts of Africa seeing a 90 percent decrease. Habitat loss, poaching, illegal hunting, and emerging diseases have all contributed to their population's rapid decline in recent years.
That's why efforts by places like Zoo Atlanta are so imperative for the species' survival. Beyond conducting various research projects and partnering with conservation organizations, the zoo is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project. GAHP is the world's first effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease in gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos.
The zoo hopes that Gorilla Cam will help bring the issues facing gorillas to the public consciousness. "Zoo Atlanta is very excited to share Gorilla Cam with people around the world," Mickelberg says. "We expect the cam to be a wonderful educational resource that we hope will help people better understand, appreciate, and connect with western lowland gorillas."