I know that when I mention gorillas in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you probably think I am talking about Bigfoot. Or you might think I am talking about gorillas running wild in the mountains, you know there are strange things here in the mountains! I am talking about Dewar Wildlife gorilla habitat just outside of Blue Ridge, GA in Morganton. When you come on your vacation to Georgia, come to Dewar Wildlife too!
Years ago, I heard of Gorilla Haven, but I never found where it was, and really didn’t know anyone who knew about it, or where it was either. Out of the blue, I received a call inviting me to come and tour their facility now called Dewar Wildlife. I called Barbara, and she grabbed the boys and we headed out on our Blue Ridge Mountain Gorilla Tours.
Visiting Dewar Wildlife
So off we headed to Dewar Wildlife, I had no idea what to expect. When we pulled up to the gate, the first think that popped into my mind was Jurassic Park. There are two massively tall gates, with warning signs. The first gate opens, you drive in, then it closes and the second gate opens. What were we getting ourselves into? This definitely not any type of zoo I’ve ever been to!
Blue Ridge Mountain Gorilla Tours at Dewar Wildlife
We followed our Dewar Wildlife escort past a series of buildings and got out at a building with a large observation deck on top. Up there, were a large group from Zoo Atlanta, touring the Dewar Wildlife facilities. We joined them on top of the observation deck and looked down to discover two Silverback Gorillas, in a natural habitat. Willie B, Jr. and Jasiri, two teenage male gorillas from Zoo Atlanta. They live together in their own natural habitat.
I learned that usually there is one dominate male gorilla who leads the family group, in the wild and in zoo populations as well. As the younger males mature, they leave the family and start their own family. This creates a problem in a zoo setting, because the gorillas can’t wander off to start a new family. Dewar Wildlife Trust is part of the solution of what to do with surplus males in zoo environments.
Dewar Wildlife Trust
Dewar Wildlife Trust is certified by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and is an advanced holding facility for zoo gorillas that have special needs. In addition, the Dewar Wildlife property can be used for educational camps or programs in conjunction with schools or universities.
After visiting Willie B, Jr. and Jasiri, we headed down and around, to visit Dewar Wildlife’s oldest resident, Joe. Joe is 49 years old, extremely old for a gorilla. Before coming to Dewar, Joe lived in a variety of zoos, and was removed from the family groups at other zoos, he hadn’t adapted well to an environment around other male gorillas and had become ill. Now, he has his own place and seems to be healthy and content with his home.
When we went into the building where Joe can come inside, if he wants to, we had to put on surgical masks. These were to help keep Joe healthy, would could pass our colds and ailments to Joe. While observing Joe, we learned a lot about him and gorillas in general. They do not look you straight in the eye, casting sideways glances to look at you. Direct eye contact is a sign of aggression to gorillas.
I found this video produced by The Mountain Living Team in Murphy, NC. I thought this could show you a little more about Dewar Wildlife:
While we were there, they gave Joe a variety of fruit and vegetables to snack on. He actually “signed” that he wanted more! He learned limited signing and can communicate some things with his caretakers.
Blue Ridge Mountain Gorilla Tours – Dewar Wildlife
Dewar Wildlife is now opening its doors on a very limited basis for mountain gorilla tours, you may want to go visit Dewar Wildlife while you are vacationing up here in the Blue Ridge area. Do not expect this to be like a “trip to the zoo” because this is not a zoo. It is an opportunity to observe gorillas in a more natural habitat, and learn a tremendous amount about them, their habits and the challenges facing a worldwide decline in the populations of their species.
Mountain Gorilla Tours
Please visit Dewar Wildlife’s website for Blue Ridge Mountain gorilla tours information, this is one of the many things that you will want to experience while on your vacation to North Georgia. Yes, there are gorillas in the mountains of North Georgia, come see for yourself! Thank you Dewar Wildlife Trust for sharing with us and educating too!