Friday, October 24, 2008

ADIEU MUMBA ...

Everyone who has ever visited the Zoo de Granby, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, has been touched in a certain way by its most popular tenant, the famous silverback gorilla Mumba. His stern figure, his ever-present stare, his incredible aura left a mark in the soul of whoever met him.

His was an impressive 450 lbs 48-years old personality, the second eldest gorilla in captivity in the world.

Mumba was born in 1961 in the forests of Cameroun. His parents were killed and he was taken in captivity, supposedly by poachers, then sent to Canada to be adopted by the zoo. He was only 15 months-old and the zoo was not equipped to take care of him just yet, they had just opened their facilities. Therefore, until his shelter was built, he was taken care of by a family and lived with them in their home for 14 months. They cared for him like a child. He wore diapers, sat in a high-chair for his meals, was bottle-fed, rode in the car with his dad. They loved him.

Later, he got adopted by the zoo where he became famous, first for his tempermental gorilla-style fits, his total self-assurance and his debonaire and casual I-don't-care-about-you ways.

There were several attempts to mate him with female gorrillas but to no avail. Mumba never became a father. He enjoyed listening to soft-rock and jazz music, loved watching ScoobyDoo cartoons and his favorite treat was yogourt. He was very well treated at the zoo and adored by his guardians. Mumba was the kind of the zoo.

When he had a very bad arthritis attack in 2003 and became paralyzed on one side, the doctors at the zoo attempted all they could to cure him and alleviate his pain. They finally succeeded with natural remedies and he could eventually stand up and walk again.

But after seeing 20 million visitors in his life, the zoo decided that he was ready to retire and last year, they kept him in a private space where he did not have to deal with the crowd or with other gorillas.

Last Tuesday, early in the morning, he was found lying on his side, the way he always slept. But he did not wake up. Mumba had passed away during the night, silently ...

When I read about this in the newspaper, I felt so sad because somehow I had lost someone I knew well. Every single time I went to the zoo, when I was a toddler, then a kid, then a teenager Mumba was there and he was the main reason for visiting the site. Since Ulysse was born, I have gone to the zoo each year, marvelling at the great changes happening for the welfare of the animals in captivity, seeing most of the cages vanishing to be replaced by more natural surroundings. And we have spent time visiting Mumba, spending time with him, watching him, not like spies but like friends, smiling at him, sending him good vibrations.

Don't get me wrong! I do not like zoos. They make me feel sad and helpless and sometimes mad. But if it were not for the Zoo de Granby, I would have never met Mumba, would have never looked into his incredible eyes and would have never felt the smallness of human beings in comparion of these great big primates. Mumba gave me the chance to see a live gorilla, something I will probably never experience in the wild in this lifetime.

Mumba made me feel humble. And thankful. Mumba gave me a hint of what was man million of days gone by.

The big apes are our relatives, let's not forget it ...

Mumba was my big-brother...

Adieu, Mumba ...

2 comments:

Kim Mailhot said...

This is a beautiful tribute, Lulu, to a beautiful creature...

bLu eYd YoGi said...

...ooooooooooooooooooh Mumba! i know what you are saying~ they do ~ they HUMBLe us~ and so they should.
zoos make me sad. zoos make me mad.
Mumba sounds like he was a cutie-patootie & i'm glad you knew him~
LOVE.
e