Orphaned Baby Gorilla and Chimpanzee Form an Adorable Friendship

Friendship Between Orphaned Chimp and Gorilla

In a world where our differences are often highlighted, a friendship between two baby animals shows what can happen when we take the time to embrace what's different. The adorable interactions between a baby gorilla and baby chimpanzee were captured by renowned wildlife photographer Michael Poliza during a trip to a gorilla orphanage. Whether sharing food or embracing, the affection that they have for one another is palpable.

Poliza took the photos in 2007 during a trip to Gabon. The African nation was starting to develop its tourism industry and he was curious to see what the country had to offer. During a stop at the Evaro Gorilla Orphanage, he had the chance to observe the friendship between these orphaned primates. As gorillas and chimpanzees don't always get along, it was a special site to behold.

“In the wild, chimpanzees and gorillas do not get along,” Poliza tells My Modern Met. “But just like cats and dogs it seems to be mostly a trained behavior. Growing up together in an orphanage breaks down that trained barrier, especially if they have room to move freely and enjoy a large and wild enclosure. I was very happy to see that. And somewhat surprised initially, but it soon made sense.”

Poliza also points out that the fact that these baby animals are without their mothers probably also influenced their behavior. He has seen this occur at other orphanages as well, where the animals bond tightly in an effort to recreate the family unit that they've lost. By playing together and bonding, the chimp and gorilla are gaining important social skills to carry them through their lives.

Fifteen years later, Poliza hopes that these images still resonate with people and that others will see this animal friendship as a message to be more open in their own lives.

“The world has not necessarily become a better and more peaceful place in the last 10 years,” Poliza admits. “But seeing this proves that much of our problems are based on trained behavior. Communication is key. That's why traveling is so important. It gives us a chance to meet people from other cultures, backgrounds, and origins and, through communication, learn about other perspectives.”

During a 2007 trip to Gabon, photographer Michael Poliza encountered a baby gorilla and baby chimp at an orphanage.

Orphaned Baby Chimpanzee in Gabon

Baby Gorilla in Gabon

The baby animals had developed an extraordinary friendship and shared everything together.

by Gorilla and Chimp Sharing Food

Cute Baby Animal Friendship

Friendship Between Orphaned Chimp and Gorilla

Whether eating, playing, or cuddling, they'd formed a bond that transcended their differences.

Baby Gorilla and Chimp Sharing Food

Baby Gorilla and Chimp Playing

Friendship Between Baby Chimp and Gorilla by Michael Poliza

Baby Gorilla and Chimp Playing in a Tree

Baby Chimp and Gorilla Embracing

Michael Poliza: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Michael Poliza.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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