Using 360-degree virtual reality headsets and motion-platform seats with built-in surround sound, visitors can experience what it’s like to be surrounded by a troop of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s remote Volcanoes National Park.
The exhibit is located in the Primate Panorama at the west end of the zoo, just down the path from the Great Apes’ habitat. The zoo currently houses two endangered western lowland gorillas, Kal and Gunther, which are native to the Congo Basin and its moist, lowland forest.
Scientists estimate there are only 1,000 mountain gorillas in the world, and they are only native to East and Central Africa. The species are largely threatened by forest clearing, which degrades the available habitat.
The Gorilla Trek allows visitors to step into a guided tour with primatologist Dr. Tara Stoinski, president and chief scientific officer of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, who has studied gorillas for over two decades and authored over 100 scientific publications.
Gorilla Trek guests will experience the troop’s family dynamics, observing the family members which range from adorable infants to intimidating alpha silverbacks, all through virtual reality headsets.
“Denver Zoo exists to connect people to nature and inspire action for wildlife, so the addition of Gorilla Trek to the experience we offer our guests is a natural fit,” said Amber Christopher, Denver Zoo chief operating officer. “We’re thrilled to bring in this new technology that allows our guests to see these incredible animals in their native habitat after seeing their cousins in person here at the Zoo.”
Gorilla Trek opened during World Rainforest Week in early October. The ride is available during the regular hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and tickets are not included with admission to the zoo. Tickets are $7 and available in person at the zoo or online in advance at DenverZoo.org.