Omaha Zoo Gorilla Charges Glass

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Published: September 17, 2022
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Hubbard Gorilla Valley, which opened in April 2004, made it possible for the Omaha Zoo to play a significant role in gorilla conservation. It has been refurbished with an African Jungle motif and improvements that reflect the Zoo’s immersive and informative style thanks to the ongoing dedication and generosity of donors. 

The gorillas were lowered at specific points throughout the display so that people could see them more closely. The main indoor habitat’s functional space rose by 10,000 square feet as a result of leveling the grade, providing the gorillas more freedom to move around both high and low.

Visitors of the Omaha Zoo were watching a gorilla on a sunny afternoon. A video shows a unique experience that left people in awe. We can see a two-year-old eyeing the primate closely with wonder in his eyes. 

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This particular gorilla exhibit has been in the news before. A group of male gorillas was fighting in 2015 as visitors watched through the giant viewing windows. In just seconds, one of the primates broke the glass, leaving visitors fleeing for their lives. 

Thankfully, in the video we’re talking about today, Omaha Zoo patrons got a much more enjoyable and less threatening experience. After staring down at the people on the other side of the enclosure, a giant gorilla speedily runs towards the glass as it beats its chest.

Both the children and their guardians shout with glee as the close encounter leaves them speechless. The male gorilla also has a multidimensional purpose for hammering his chest, similar to chicken fights or even adrenaline-filled human males who pump their chests to try to show dominance. 

Why Do Gorillas Drum Their Chest?

Silverback intimidate his own reflection

Gorillas express dominance through a range of actions and vocalizations.

©Andreas Rose/

Males have huge air sacs in their chests, which help transport the sound over vast distances when they beat their chests with open palms in this manner of communication. Younger gorillas frequently beat their chests when playing, which is another common behavior.

The nonverbal communication that gorillas employ to woo females and frighten potential rivals is thought to be these chest beats, according to scientists. It’s safe to say it was the latter in this particular instance. Gorillas express dominance through a range of actions and vocalizations. 

As a dominant person approaches, it can be as subtle as moving slightly out of the way; attempting to make appeasement noises, which is frequently accompanied by a subservient pose like crouching; or putting on a full-fledged show that includes flinging foliage, chest-thumping, strut stances, and even increased aggression like hitting or kicking.

While the title of the video mentions that the gorilla is being aggressive, it is, in fact, not. Whether he was reacting to the visitors on the other side of the glass or even his own reflection, the primate’s response was completely natural. In reality, the chest drumming is a warning sign before gorillas start to get aggressive. 

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jeff W. Jarrett/

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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