Discussion anD activity GuiDe
Gorilla Doctors: Saving Endangered Great Apes
by Pamela S. Turner
Houghton Miin Harcourt Books or Young ReadersVisit www.sciencemeetsadventure.com or authors’ Adventure Notes, teacher resources, videos, and more!Now look at pictures o gorillas and lowland mountaingorillas. How are they the same and how are they dierent?Can students see the dierence?Have students draw two pictures o themselves or anotherperson. In the frst picture, have them draw and labelthemselves eeling good and healthy. In the second picture,have them draw and label themselves eeling sick. Discussthe similarities and dierences in the two pictures. Make alist o the characteristic that are easily observed that suggesta person may be ill. Find group pictures online that showlots o aces. Look closely at the aces to see which acessuggest a possibility o illness.Ask a veterinarian to visit the class or have students visit avet in their neighborhood. Ask the vet to explain how theyidentiy animals that are not healthy and then how theydecide what is ailing any given animal. Ask about whetheror not there are universal treatments or a variety o species.When an animal is not able to speak, how are we sure thatour treatment is correct? Make sure to ask the vet aboutwhether or not, like humans, certain animals have allergiesto otherwise sae and eective medicines.
What is the percentage o DNA dierence between humanssuch as a white woman rom Kansas and an Asian malerom Thailand? How does this compare to the DNAdierence between gorillas and humans? How much DNAdierence must there be beore we assign constitutional civilrights protections to any given animal? I two animals canshare blood, is that enough to provide each animal with thesame protection?In the book, Turner states that poachers will kill the adultmales, the mother, and others o the troop just to capture ababy gorilla. What should the penalty be or this poacher?What is actually likely to happen to the poacher? Why dopeople kill gorillas? Can you imagine a set o circumstancesthat would cause you to become a poacher?Since there are other gorillas, what is the harm in allowingmountain lowland gorillas to go extinct? Since mountainlowland gorillas can catch human diseases and since theyare on the verge o extinction, should humans be allowed tohave any contact with them?Do humans have a superiority complex? I they do, is itwrong? Do animals have emotions or is that a humanassumption about animal reactions?
Applying and Extending Our Knowledge
Scientists rely upon observations o animals. They look atacial expressions, behavior, body language, condition o ur/ skin, and more to determine the likelihood that an animal isin good health.
Look at healthy animals o one species such as birds.Now look at unhealthy animals o another species.What, i anything, do we see in the healthy animalsthat we should see, but do not see, in the unhealthyanimals? Do we catch glimpses o a generaldefnition o good health? Explain.
Turner tells us that Patience Dusabimana knows thatAgashya’s tantrum (page 5) is a warning and not anattack. Predict how Dusabimana knows. Comparethis with other animal behaviors that may look andsound more serious than they actually are.
Have students discuss whether things like showingteeth in a human smile mean the same thing orother animals. Discuss what a gorilla would looklike and would be doing i he or she really plannedto attack instead o warn.
Common Core ConnectionsRST.6-8.9. Compare and contrast the inormation gained romexperiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with thatgained rom reading a text on the same topic.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.7 Integrate inormation presented indierent media or ormats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well asin words to develop a coherent understanding o a topic or issue.
On page 21 Diane Fossey is quoted: “Maybe poachers aren’tthe worst thing to happen to gorillas. Perhaps WE are.”However, in the beginning o the book, Mararo would havelost a oot and perhaps died i Dusabimana and sta hadnot captured Mararo and removed the snare. In addition,tourist dollars have made it possible or doctors to trackgorillas and treat illnesses, remove snares, and provideprotection. We also learn that gorillas are responsible ortwo classrooms in Ntungamo.