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Easy breezy: Gorilla family gets cool treatment during Kyoto City Zoo closure

Western gorilla Momotaro cools down in front of an electric fan at Kyoto City Zoo. (Mainichi/Kazuki Yamazaki)

KYOTO -- A family of gorillas is having a breezy time of it during its home zoo's closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, basking in a cooling breeze from electric fans.

    Male western gorilla Momotaro, his mate Genki, and their children Gentaro and Kintaro live in an enclosure at Kyoto City Zoo in the city's Sakyo Ward. The zoo is known worldwide for breeding the western gorilla, which is in danger of extinction due to environmental destruction and poaching.

    Electric fans -- bladeless, for safety reasons -- were introduced in around 2018. Fans were placed inside two fenced spaces facing the zookeepers' work area early this summer, after the rainy season. Apparently, curious Gentaro sometimes knocks over one of the fans using a stick to draw the staff's attention.

    City Culture and Citizens Affairs Bureau official Mitsunori Nagao, 58, who has been involved in keeping gorillas for many years, said, "They stay in front of the fences when the electric fans are set up, so they are perhaps trying to stay cool, too."

    The zoo is slated to remain closed until Sept. 13. Zookeepers will judge whether to continue using the electric fans based on the temperature and the gorillas' health.

    (Japanese original by Kazuki Yamazaki, Osaka Photo Department)

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