by Dr. Jan Ramer

I had a fun visit this week with Gorilla Doctors donors Chuck and Max Block, and their traveling companions Conservation International President Russ Mittermeier and his son Mickey!  I met Chuck and Max at Gorilla Love Beverly Hills – the Gorilla Doctors first major west coast fundraiser on November 4th, where I learned about Max’s love of gorillas.  The group visited our headquarters after trekking Golden Monkeys, and we talked about Mountain Gorilla conservation history, Gorilla Doctor history, and some recent cases.  I learned that Max knows soooo much about gorillas, in fact he knows the life histories of every gorilla in North America!  Russ and I had fun remembering mountain gorilla groups and individuals from way back, and time we both spent here in Rwanda and in Madagascar back in the 1980s – we had met several times over the years at various primate talks or meetings.  

The next morning the group trekked gorillas – they saw Sabyinyo Group and Max said it was the best day of his life. Apparently they got a great view of Guhonda, the silverback in the group, and saw babies playing.  When we met after their trek at Kinigi Guest House there were big smiles all around!  We crossed the street so that they could see Ihirwe, the Grauer’s gorilla orphan in Kinigi.  Max must have taken 100 pictures as she played with Dieu Donne, one of her caregivers. They were tickling, laughing, wrestling.  She is so much bigger than the first time I saw her! [Dr. Jan led Ihirwe’s rescue team in August 2011: click here to about Ihirwe’s rescue]  And it was fun to see Innocent and Dieu Donne, her caregivers, again.  We are in the process of securing all permits so that Ihirwe can move to GRACE to be at home with the other Grauer’s gorilla orphans there.   

Russ and Micky Mittermeier, Dr. Jan Ramer, Chuck and Max Block visit orphan Ihirwe in Kinigi, Rwanda.

A big thank you to Chuck for the very tasty chocolate – it has been devoured by the team!

You can follow the Gorilla Doctors health monitoring efforts on our Facebook page, where we post photos and notes from our monthly visits.

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