In 1998, Disney’s Animal Kingdom officially opened to Guests and ever since, thousands of animals have called this Park home. But there is one animal that has been with Disney’s Animal Kingdom since opening day — Gino, a 40-year-old gorilla.
Gino is a 400-pound western lowland gorilla who has been part of Animal Kingdom ever since opening day in 1998. He can be seen on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and loves making personal connections with both Guests and Cast Members. Disney Parks Blog recently recognized this adorable gorilla, writing:
Over the past 24 years, thousands of animals have called Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park home, but no other animal has had more of an impact on guests, cast members and the scientific community than Gino, a 40-year-old western lowland gorilla. Stepping up to the window on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and locking eyes with a 400-pound silverback, for many including our cast members and our guests, is an unforgettable experience that ignites a personal connection and lifelong passion for conservation of the world around us as well as this magnificent species.
As an opening-day animal at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Gino, under the care of our dedicated team of veterinarians and animal care team, is not only the oldest gorilla at Walt Disney World Resort, he’s a favorite of many and something of an icon in the zoological community by his model involvement in the advancement of animal care for his species, gorilla conservation and animals around the world.
Disney Parks Blog went on to say that even though Gino may look a bit intimidating at first glance, deep down he is a ball of energy who loves interacting with people and other animals. When Guests come to Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, Gino makes sure to make eye contact with them, connecting to families on a deeper level.
Per Disney Parks. Blog:
Despite his dominant, alpha-gorilla status, Gino often is a playful goofball who likes engaging with the people and animals around him. He isn’t just magnificent to look at; he pays attention to guests, he makes eye contact, he interacts with children through the viewing panel of his habitat and he’ll often orient his behavior toward the families on the other side. Gino loves to be the center of attention and has an eye for cameras. In fact, millions of families were introduced to Gino from the comfort of their living rooms on “The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” series, featured on Disney+, where his cake-sharing skills were tested by the rest of the troop.
It is important for gorillas, like Gino, to stay healthy so that they can live a long, happy life. So how exactly do gorillas stay healthy? Well, thanks to the trusted relationship Gino has made with Disney’s world-class animal care experts, they were able to train and develop some important techniques. According to Disney Parks Blog:
Based on the trusted relationships Gino’s developed with Disney’s world-class animal care experts, his laid-back attitude and participation in his own care have enabled his keepers to train and develop important techniques which benefit gorillas in managed care around the world.
Gino is something of a pioneer as one of the first gorillas in the world to allow his caretakers to perform cardiac ultrasounds without anesthesia. Cardiac disease is one of the leading causes of death in gorillas, and anesthesia can place an extra burden on their heart. Gino’s contribution has paved the way for a more accurate reading of his own heart health, and these methods have been adopted by dozens of zoological facilities who have been able to train these behaviors with other gorillas for procedures without anesthesia.
On December 30, Gino will be turning 41 and Disney will be celebrate his amazing legacy with a birthday party fit for a king — complete with a birthday “cake”. Happy early birthday, Gino!
Have you ever visited with Gino at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments below.
If you want to visit Walt Disney World on your next family vacation to experience the four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — but aren’t sure where to begin planning, then don’t hesitate to reach out to our friends over at the Authorized Disney Vacation Planners at Academy Travel for a free quote.