Zoo360 in the Treetops


Photo ©Gerry Ellis/Minden Pictures

A 17-kilometer trek through an untouched tropical rainforest gives you a lot of time to look, listen, and think—for me, almost too much time to think! But one thought I did want to share with everyone in Philadelphia was how much my experience reminded me of Zoo360.
Walking though the forest, I had my senses on full alert. I was searching for chimpanzees (gorillas were there, but I knew my chances of seeing them in this part of the rainforest were going to be slim at best). But I was also seeing amazing tropical birds, and occasionally, a troop of putty-nosed or Mona monkeys would dart high above me in the treetops. All kinds of small mammals scooted along branches like an aerial track.

Sound familiar? The canopy of the forest was alive with movement and sounds and smells. That’s Zoo360!

Think about it. Wandering the grounds of the Philadelphia Zoo has a lot of similarity to the brilliant trek I was on in the remote tropical rainforest of Cameroon—just minus the malaria-carrying mosquitoes, a dozen other biting bugs, dodging giant thorns poking out from every other plant, and of course, nasty blisters from wading through rivers and swamps forest. Oh, and did I mention the sweating? Endlessly sweating!
Animals on the move have their senses turned up to full. They see a world not from one perspective but from many. To truly appreciate them and enjoy their experience and grow ours we need to do the same. Zoo360 gives us an opportunity to share that experience.
Cameroon has been an amazing adventure, and an incredible education. It begs you to come with your senses turned on and your antennae fully extended, and for your efforts you are rewarded with a magical adventure.
My six-hour trek into Ebo Forest got me thinking. Zoo360 asks and delivers nothing less. 

By Gerry Ellis, Philadelphia Zoo Conservation Partner