Gorillas in Our Midst

It's a swinging time at Zoo Ball as black-tie guests get sneak peek of new $28 million gorilla habitat

Swinging time at Zoo Ball as guests get sneak peek of new gorilla home

News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Brent Perper, Lindsay Perper, Tyler Perper
The Perper kids take a selfie with the gorillas: Brent, from left, Lindsay and Tyler. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Jim Postl, Scott McClelland
Zoo Ball chairs Jim Postl, left, and Scott McClelland called for the black-tie dress code.  Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Jim Postl, Scott McClelland
Western lowland gorillas were the center of attention at the Zoo Ball.  Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Jason and Taunya Rother, Siva and Teddy Adams
Jason and Taunya Rother, left, with Siva and Teddy Adams. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Tom and Liz Glanville
Viewing platforms allow zoo guests a close-up view of the gorillas. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Mike Mahlstedt and Angie Guiderteau
Mike Mahlstedt and Angie Guiderteau. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Dr. Wayne Franklin and Rachel McNeill
Dr. Wayne Franklin and Rachel McNeill. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Bill and Leigh Stubbs, from left, Dianna Patterson, Eddie Patterson
Bill and Leigh Stubbs, left, with Dianna and Eddie Patterson. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Honorees Annie and Bob Graham
Honorees Annie and Bob Graham. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Cullen Geiselman, left, and Deborah Cannon
Cullen Geiselman, left, and Houston Zoo CEO and president Deborah Cannon. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Jim Postl, Scott McClelland
Chowing down on banana leaves more interesting to the gorillas than the black-tie crowd. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Tom and Liz Glanville
Tom and Liz Glanville. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Michael Trevino, Ileana Trevino
Michael and Ileana Trevino. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015,cBob and Suzanne Nimcocks
Bob and Suzanne Nimcocks. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015
The new gorilla habitat a breath-taking expansion at Houston Zoo. Photo by Gary Fountain
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Brent Perper, Lindsay Perper, Tyler Perper
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Jim Postl, Scott McClelland
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Jim Postl, Scott McClelland
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Jason and Taunya Rother, Siva and Teddy Adams
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Tom and Liz Glanville
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Mike Mahlstedt and Angie Guiderteau
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Dr. Wayne Franklin and Rachel McNeill
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Bill and Leigh Stubbs, from left, Dianna Patterson, Eddie Patterson
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Honorees Annie and Bob Graham
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Cullen Geiselman, left, and Deborah Cannon
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Jim Postl, Scott McClelland
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Tom and Liz Glanville
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015, Michael Trevino, Ileana Trevino
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015,cBob and Suzanne Nimcocks
News, Shelby, Zoo Ball, Gorillas, April 2015

Houston Zoo's newest residents — a troupe of seven western lowland gorillas — were so nonchalant as the focal point of the Zoo Ball Saturday night that the black-tie crowd might have felt rather ignored. That would have been, except for the fact that the 375 guests were completely mesmerized by the muscular celebrities as they romped through their new "jungle" home.

The $28 million Gorillas of the African Forest exhibition opens to the public on May 22. This sneak peek for zoo patrons was something of an audience warm-up for the massive mammals, which weigh as much as 450 pounds.

Scott McClelland and Jim Postl chaired the gala, a black-tie rarity on zoo grounds, that brought in a cool $1 million and change. "What a spectacular way to show off the gorillas," Postl said. "They're running and playing and chasing each other. They are obviously very happy here."

It was spectacular indeed with ladies in long gowns and the gents in their own monkey suits traversing the observation platforms that provided expansive views of the leafy yet rocky terrain. From the Nau Board Room, guests could see the silverback gorilla as he climbed the ropes and rocks to come face-to-face with surprised admirers. He looked and turned away, unconcerned by the enthusiastic gorilla fans.

(The second floor Nau Family Gorilla Treehouse is an intriguing element of the gorilla habitat, available for special event rentals. Bobbie and John Nau and their family will celebrate Bobbie's upcoming birthday in the swell African-themed room. And the zoo board, led by Houston Zoo CEO and president Deborah Cannon, will hold its meetings there.)

Dinner chimes sounded at about the time the gorillas were heading indoors to their individual sleeping quarters, where straw is changed out each day to keep their beds fresh.

The zoo's special events team created the sleek party tent sheered in white and lighted with crystal chandeliers. Adjoining was a separate tent where Cuvée out of Dallas performed after dinner.

Among those fascinated by the gorillas were ball honorees Annie and Bob Graham, Soraya McClelland, Beverly Postl, Cathy Brock, Randa and K.C. Weiner, Ileana and Michael Trevino, Susie and Joe Dilg, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Amanda and Robert Brock, Laura Bellows and Jack Pendergrast, Ann and Karl Stern and Mike Mahlstedt.

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