A LIFELONG DREAM COME TRUE FOR SHAWNA
Perched on a freshly cleared pile of vines on the side of a mountain in Uganda, I peered down into a small hollow and made my first eye contact with the Mountain Gorilla. At 35 years of age, she was the oldest female in the family group, and was feeding a short distance away from the rest of her family. Her face was soft and gentle, and her eyes seemed to reveal a cautious tolerance of our presence. She ate slowly, clearly choosing her favorites and seeming to savor each bite of vine, leaf, or twig. Occasionally she spit out a small lump of chewed plant matter, having been unsatisfied with some aspect of the bite. Looking into her eyes, I felt that she was wise, and had a sense that she had lived through many difficult and beautiful moments in her 35 years of life in the jungle.