Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail takes you into a lush, tropical forest found in the heart of Africa where you can explore a variety of old and new animal friends.
As you enter the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, look to the right. The first animal exhibit is that of the Black and White Colobus Monkeys. Their diet consists of leaves, buds, seeds and fruit and in the wild (Kenya) are found mostly in trees. They are hunted for their fur, but today, their existence is more threatened by the destruction of forests. Unlike other monkeys, Colobus monkeys have no thumb.
As the overhead vegetation gives way to the sky, you enter the first observation post. Here you may find Okapi, and the Yellow-backed Duiker. The Yellow-backed Duiker Cephalophus silvicultor is a member of the antelope family and the largest of the Duiker species. They are native to the forests of west central Africa and grow to 100-175 pounds. The name Duiker is African for diver — the Duikers will hide in the undergrowth of the forest when alarmed. Duikers are nocturna and rarely seen.
The Okapi, Okapia johnstoni , is the only known living relative of the giraffe. They are dark chestnut brown with distinctive stripes on their legs, similar to Zebras.The most giraffe-like feature of the okapi is their very long black tongue. The Okapi have always been rare and is very shy. They are native to the tropical forests of northeastern Zaire.
The Stanley Crane ( Anthropoides paradisea ), sometimes known as the Paradise Crane or Blue Crane, is the National bird of South Africa. Stanley Cranes can sometimes be found standing asleep in water with flamingos and other cranes. In the wild their diet can consist of insects, worms, small reptiles and amphibians, small mammals and seeds and bulbs. NOTE: Stanley Cranes were originally found in this area, but I have not seen any in a long time. (Please let me know if they are still at the park)
As you leave the first observation post, your path takes you into a research building. The research building has a few small exhibits, but the highlight of your visit will be the Naked Mole Rats. (Wheelchair/Stroller note: the doors in and out of the research building are awkward and heavy!)
The Naked Mole Rats are very curious animals. You’ll have to try and get close to the glass so you can see them burrowing about in their entirely underground habitat. They are the only hairless rodents. They live in colonies with a structure resembling that of insect colonies. Each colony has a queen, a breeding male, soldiers, and workers.
Soon the sound of birds fill your ears as you enter the aviary area. Carmine bee-eaters, red-bearded barbets, Brimstone canaries and other rare African birds can be found here. Don’t spend all your time looking up — you’ll find birds on ground level too!
Hippos! Leaving the aviary through a screen door, you pass into another open air shelter with a dam on the far wall with a large panel of inch-thick glass, holding the pond. The pool is home to a trio of giant hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius).
This is a great underwater viewing area. The Hippo is a river dwelling mammal from tropical Africa and is related to the pig. Males are approximately 5 feet tall and can weigh five TONS! The hippos will spend most of their time in the water but can relax on nearby boulders, particularly in cooler weather.
Back on the trail you will come to a thatched roof structure and a large Savannah overlook into the grasslands.
Timon! Yes, Meerkats reside here and delight children and adults with their sentinel behaviors. Meerkats are found in Southern Africa and the Kalahari Desert. They are 12 inches tall and have tails that can grow 8 inches long. They are very territorial and can often be found standing erect, guarding their space. Meerkats have an interesting diet which includes scorpions (they are immune to their venom) beetles, spiders, centipedes, worms, crickets, small mammals, small reptiles, birds, eggs, and roots.
Following the leafy trail is the Gorilla Research Camp. As you enter, you’ll find everyone pressed up against the glass viewing the gorilla family. Two young females and a silverback (adult) male and a baby or two may come into view. Gino, the silverback, is the head of the family troop and came from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Gino’s family as of July 2007 was a 12-year old male, 9-year old male, and 6-year old female along with the breeding female. Cast members in this area will be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Exit this area to come to an open air viewing area of the gorillas.
Stand on the swaying suspension bridge for a wonderful view of the more gorillas. On the left side is a bachelor group of 4 males.
Trail walkers catch a final glimpse of the gorillas through a “bamboo” fence before heading to the end of Pangani Forest Exploration Trail near the Harambe station of the Wildlife Express trains.
The Gorilla Exhibit is a QUIET Zone! I have this bolded because during my last 2 visits guests ignored the Cast Member’s requests to be quiet. They warned that excessive noise and waving arms are seen as threats by the goriallas. Indeed, the gorillas who were out became agitated and left. Please have respect for the animals when you visit!
Your journey through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail takes about 20-30 minutes. It is a natural flow along the path as you exit the Kilimanjaro Safari. If you are interested in the gorillas, be sure to check out the research training station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch where you can learn about Disney’s behavior gorilla training program.
Be sure to ask the Guides any questions you might have about the animals you encounter during your trek. Many of the guides are native to Africa.
There are plenty of viewing areas for kids and lots of educational opportunities too.
Of course, the gorilla exhibit is a big draw, but it was very crowded at the observation window. After about 15 minutes of jockeying for a good view, we decided to move on. Well, just as we rounded the next turn, we were on a bridge overlooking the gorillas from the right-hand side. We had a perfect view of the male silverback, and also of a couple of females and youths. Now we know that if the viewing area is crowded, keep moving along and good (if not better) viewing opportunities await! (Kathy Coppola )
EDITOR’S NOTE: Though just past the glass viewing area gives you a view of the Family Troop section of the exhibit, if the gorillas are extremely close to the glass, it’s difficult to see them from that point. Also, the bridge and the area beyond are the only spots from which you can view the Bachelor Troop.
For more information on Animal Kingdom Live Entertainment, Visit Steve Soares’ WDW Entertainment Website.
In Harambe Village you will find Tusker House (counter service), the Dawa Bar, Harambe Fruit Market, Kusafiri Coffee & Bakery, and Tamu Tamu (ice cream).
The shopping area is back in Harambe Village.
The hippos are actually the same ones you will sometimes see on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride in the savannah. The hippo barn resides in betweenGorilla Falls Exploration Trail and the savannah river.
June 2016, the name has reverted back to Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. When Animal Kingdom opened in April 1998, this trail was named Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail — it was renamed a few months later.
Duikers are small antelopes and can dive quickly to hide.
Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
Africa – Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail – Aviary
African Grey Parrot
African White-backed Duck
Lake Victoria Cichlids
Snowy-headed Robin Chat
Taveta Golden Weaver
White-bellied Go-away Bird
Tiny dik-diks, Gerenuks (where the meerkats reside) , and others are seen grazing in knee-high grass. The Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri walleri ) is sometimes called a gazelle-giraffe because their long neck is similar to the giraffe and they have a gazelle-like body shape. An interesting fact I discovered – Gerenuk’s have a special muscle on their lips which is puncture proof.