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.”