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A Visit to the Congo Gorilla Forest
More than 400 animals live at the Bronx Zoo in New York City in the world's largest re-created lowland gorilla habitat.
By Brandon Guastafeste, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Children play with a baby gorilla seen through the glass in the Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit at the Bronx Zoo on Tuesday, May 14, 2002, in New York.
(Photo: Kathy Willens/AP Wide World)
Did you know that one of the main purposes of the Bronx Zoo is to protect endangered species? One of the many endangered species they are trying to save is the gorilla. The Bronx Zoo is the only zoo trying to save all three types of gorillas: mountain, Grauer's, and the western lowland gorillas.

While looking at the gorillas in their exhibit, I had no idea that the species were in danger of becoming extinct. Visiting your local zoo can teach you a lot about other animals in the world.

"You'd have to travel through 37,000 miles around the world to see what you can see if you have a good pair of walking shoes at one day at the zoo," said Linda Corcoran, a spokesperson for the Bronx Zoo.

In their forest habitat during a hot afternoon at the Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit in the Bronx, the gorillas nap under and in shade trees. Among the gorillas I see, there is a mother and her baby who seem harmless to me, despite their tremendous size. Gorillas can weigh up to 400 pounds.

up close and personal
Student Reporter Brandon Guastafeste visits the Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.
(Photo: Ezra Billinkoff)
Gorillas live in the Congo forest in Africa. People are cutting down trees in the Congo to create space to live. This destruction of their natural habitat has put the gorilla's existence in danger. People are forcing gorillas to live in areas they are not used to living in. They cannot survive in these small areas because there are not enough leaves and bugs to eat.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which is headquartered at the Bronx Zoo, works to save habitats of endangered animals. Recently, a logging firm announced plans to cut down more than $40 million worth of mahogany trees from the Goalongo Triangle in West Africa. WCS, working with political leaders in Africa, persuaded the logging firm to change its plans and keep the forest. In return, the zoo gave Africa's government $7 million. The logging firm owner said he did it in the name of conservation.

"Everybody has something they can do," Corcoran told Scholastic News Online as she led us through the exhibit. "Whether you're the guy at the logging firm or a government official or whether you're visiting a zoo, you can make good conservation choices."

At the Bronx Zoo, it costs an additional $3 to see the Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit. At the end of the extensive exhibit, you can decide how that $3 will be spent.

You can also go online and learn about ways to help the animals of the Congo.