A Day in the Life of a Houston Zoo Gorilla

Written by William Weeks, Ashley Kramer & Meredith Ross

I am Ajari, a 14 year old male.  I am the youngest member of the Houston Zoo bachelor group.   I live with 30 year old Chaka, and 23 year old Mike.

Ajari sitting

Yawn……Is it time to wake up already? I want to sleep in more. Oh NO, the lights are on….Well, that’s fine, I can lie in bed a little bit longer. . That means I have a few minutes until breakfast comes. My keepers always say something to me in the morning.   What does “Good morning, sunshine!” even mean?

Oh, finally breakfast is here!  The juice is actually pretty tasty today. My favorite color is the red juice (fruit punch),   and it’s not my favorite when they give me the blue juice (blue crush). Of course I still drink it!  They always ask me to finish my juice before I get the rest of my breakfast. It has stuff in the juice that is good for me, apparently. Things like supplements and vitamins, y’ know, the good stuff.

Ajari lying on rock

After the juice we always play this fun game. They ask me to show them some part of my body, like my shoulder or hand, and then they give me some amazing fruit. This is called training, which my keepers do to keep up on their husbandry. They do this so that if my friends and I ever get cuts or scrapes, we know how to show our keepers where it hurts. So, I just take my favorite fruit:  strawberries, and if I had to choose my least favorite fruit, because let’s be honest what fruit is bad fruit, I would say cantaloupe. But it’s always fun because I am so smart I can show them almost any part of my body they ask for. I will do anything for some fruit. Once all of the fruit is gone they give me some lettuce, and primate biscuits to chow down on while they clean my yard. My yard can be kind of gross, because, well, even though I try and keep it clean for them I somehow always get it messy when I am with my two friends.


We, my friends and I, always can tell when our keepers are ready to let us outside because they start to unlock all of our tunnel doors and start getting ready to open our outside doors. They always send me out first, then after me it’s the big boss man Chaka, followed by my best friend Mike. While were all outside we all get to eat and have fun with these extra goodies that they scatter around for us to forage for.

Oh look, why do those people that feed us always think they are going to go unnoticed when they are with the guests?  We can see them from a mile away; I know their faces like the back of my hand. But, oh well, this yard is so much fun! We get items that will take us all day to work on, these tubes that have gotten extra frozen stuff inside of it. And, there are tasty plants to eat, as well as red river hogs to look at! We always spend the rest of our day eating, napping and playing.

Ajari at meadow window

When it starts to get really hot outside, they start to bring us inside. When we come inside Chaka goes first, then Mike, and then finally it is my turn.

When we get to come inside we get to have some more fruit, and play that fun body training game again. They always have our bedrooms full of fresh bedding, and new browse, and some small food items that are just so delicious but it takes a while to find all of them with our nesting material hiding it everywhere.  After another nap, we get even more food, which is awesome and then its bed time again, which is the best part of the day for me, because I love to sleep.

King of the Hill (Ajari)

Being a gorilla at the Houston Zoo is pretty wonderful. Who could beat this life?

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