Ambam – a walk on the wild side

Posted on January 28, 2011

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Ambam at Port Lympne Animal Park

He weighs 220kg, is 21 years old and can look you square in the eye.

Ambam, a Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), who was born in the UK,  can walk like a human.

Gorillas are part of the great ape family and usually move around on all fours (quadrupedal – knuckle walking) but Ambam, a critically endangered captive silverback, manages to keep his balance on just two hind legs (bipedal) like us.

Gorilla keeper Phil Ridges says his walking technique gives him certain advantages over his fellow apes at the park: “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.

“Ambam can also carry a lot more food if he stands and uses both hands and walking on two feet also means he doesn’t get his hands wet when it is raining.”

Ambam has become a bit of celebrity at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent. A park spokesman said: “He is not the first gorilla ever to walk like this but he seems to do it much better than others. He seems to get up and wander off, and he can pick up quite a bit of speed once he gets going. He’s definitely a big attraction here.”

Ambam was born at Howletts Wild Animal Park, the sister park to Port Lympne, also in Kent. He was hand-raised for a few months when he was a year old after falling ill, which meant he had to be taken away from his mother Shumba as a last resort.

He’s clearly developed into quite a remarkable ape, becoming the park’s most popular resident.

Have a look at this fella, he’s certainly impressive. This video uploaded by Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, has already had more than a 900,000 hits since the beginning of January!

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