Gorilla experts from around the world will meet in Oklahoma City this week to talk about great ape care in captivity and conservation in the wild.
The International Gorilla Workshop will draw about 120 zookeepers, zoo curators and conservationists from North America, Europe, Africa, Indonesia and Australia, said Dwight Scott, executive director of the Oklahoma City Zoo.
"These people are some of the first people I’ve ever met in the zoo industry,” said Scott, who started his career as a zookeeper.
"For me, it’s really personal and it means something to me to have my friends come here and we get to show off our zoo.”
Zoo conservationists and zookeepers still are battling to improve animal welfare worldwide, but progress has been made, Scott said.
Conferences like this will help further the movement, he said.
"Gorillas are very successful in captivity,” Scott said. "Thirty years ago, they weren’t.”
Animal care has improved dramatically since, he said. Larger, more natural habitats, instead of cement cells with bars, have improved quality of life and reproduction.