11.04.2004

Moose vs. two gorillas - GORILLAS WIN!





The sights and sounds that one must bear in this profession (animal raiser/trainer/feeder/keeper/sharpener) would upturn the stomachs of most, but we're professionals. When a hippopotamus gets eaten alive from the inside out by raccoons, we're there. When an anaconda gets turned inside-out by a team of well-organized penguins, we're there. And today, when a pair of tired, partially dismembered mountain gorillas tore a moose in half like an olive loaf, we were there. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This one was a long time coming. These two might be anything but natural enemies (as usual), but the tension at the weighing ceremony was quite tangible; angry hoofs stomps and hurled feces could be seen and heard three rooms away. Despite that nasty, unprofessional display of natural behavior, our stockholders gave us the green light to go ahead with the fight. Precise scientific match-up or not, the moose was a heavy favorite going in to the match, and with good reason. Two gorillas might have plenty of pain to dish out, but a moose is eight goddamn feet tall. The only man to ever mount a moose from a standing position was Patrick Ewing, and he was promptly killed. It's anyones guess as to why these particular gorillas were able to fell such an insurmountable foe, but they obviously knew some tricks not usually privy to their species.

The fight began as predicted, with a mighty charge from the moose, antlers lowered. One of the gorillas managed to swing up and over the creature's incoming velvety weapons in one swift movement, while the other took a savage bruising around the midsection after not finding himself quite so lucky. Rearranged, bleeding internal organs aside, the beast scurried away hurriedly before a second blow could be landed. The first, more nimble of the gorillas had landed on the back of the moose, and had promptly started biting out baseball-sized chunks of the enraged creature's back. While the moose furiously tried to buck the bitey beast off of it's back, the second gorilla managed to grab onto it's underside, clinging to the moose's soft stomach flesh while he pummeled it's ribs from either side. Despite being under such intense attack, the clever moose did something quite clever - he lay down. The force of the movement threw the top gorilla off to the side, and the weight of the massive moose crushed both the legs of the lower gorilla into smithereens.

Forced to retreat for a bit, the gorillas climbed (one using only his hands, obviously) to the top of the cage for some solace. All three creatures took a minute to regain their breath and shake off their wounds (well, except for the broken bones), the moose circling quietly below, the gorillas clinging powerfully to the ceiling of the arena. It was only a matter of time before the moose decided to jump up after his hairy opponents, and jump he did. While the top of our battle arena is twenty feet high, a hanging gorilla brings it closer to fifteen feet, an easily reachable height for an eight-foot moose. So leap he did, over and over, sometimes missing completely, sometimes nailing a solid blunt body hit, sometimes slashing open an achilles tendon or arm muscle with his antler tines. By the time the moose stopped jumping, the gorillas hung battered and bruised, blood pouring out of them like some unusually thick, red rain shower.

Thinking a last brutal blow could render the gorillas lifeless, the moose geared up for one final, powerful jump. The gorillas knew they were close to death though, and their adrenaline kicked in as they swung aside, just out of reach of the speeding antlers. The mighty moose was immediately shocked to find himself hanging above the ground, his antlers entangled fiercely in our meshed arena ceiling. As is typical for their kind, the gorillas laughed loudly at the stuck animal, tossing whatever bowel movements they hadn't already lost. After a good couple minutes of humiliation, they went to work on the moose's legs and torso, jumping back and forth between the side of the cage and the moose's hanging body, landing blows and savage bites where applicable. What happened next wasn't entirely unexpected, but it's still shocking every time, even to a veteran Animal Fight announcer - long dead from internal bleeding, it's back almost completely caved in, the moose simply fell in half under the final blows of the gorillas, their hairred fists punching through muscle and organs. The three bodies, only two of them living (though barely), plopped loudly into the crimson water below. The muffled whoops of gorilla joy could still be heard through bloodied larynxes, but after a fierce fight, it was time to say goodnight. So we let the piranhas out to 'cleanse' the arena.










Alaskan Moose
Alces Alces

What we know:

- Live in all parts of Canada and in Alaska in forests and marshy areas.
- Largest of the deer family
- Flap of skin that hangs beneath the throat is called a 'bell'
- Alaskan moose have the largest antlers - more than 6 feet wide
- Mature males shed their antlers once a year in November/December and replace them with new, larger ones
- Antlers are covered with a soft smooth skin called 'velvet', which is eventually scraped off at which point the antlers become completely formed of mineralised dead matter
- Antlers have as many as 30 'tines' (or spikes), the shape differing from animal to animal
- Each of its feet has two large hoofed toes and two smaller toes
- They will wade in the water up to their shoulders to eat water lilies and weeds
- Their sight is poor but their hearing and sense of smell are excellent
- Can run up to 35 mph and swim up to 6 mph
- When a moose charges, it often kicks forward with its front hooves


Weight: 1200-1500 lbs.
Height: 6-8' shoulder level
Length: 8-10'
Life Span: 15-25 years



Mountain Gorilla
Gorilla Beringei

What we know:

- Found in 285 square miles in the rain forests of Rwanda, Uganda and Zaire
- Fully adult male mountain gorilla is twice as large as the female
- Eat over 200 types of leaves, tubers, flowers, fruit, fungus and insects
- Gorillas do not drink water; they obtain all the moisture they need from the vast amounts of foliage they consume
- Males consume approximately 50 lbs. of food a day
- Distress behavior includes diarrhea and strong, pungent body odor
- They generate about 25 distinct noises
- At night the animals make a nest to sleep in
- Groups are not territorial, but when they do meet threats and fighting often occur
- Can stand erect on hind legs
- Often drum on the chest with hands or fists, stamp their feet, strike the ground with the palms of their hands and gallop in a mock attack on all fours



Weight: 300-425 lbs.
Length: 5-6' upright
Life Span: Up to 50 years in captivity
Arm Span: Up to 9'






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