All-new 360° VR experience takes guests on a live-action adventure
ATLANTA – May 25, 2023 – Members and guests at Zoo Atlanta now have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to venture into the jungle of Rwanda and observe gorillas in the wild – without leaving their seats at the Zoo. Zoo Atlanta is excited to announce Gorilla Trek: A 360° Ride Film, a virtual reality experience presented in partnership with Immotion.
Housed with a message of sustainability inside a giant repurposed shipping container, Gorilla Trek is a VR Theater featuring 12 cinema motion seats on a motion platform. VR goggles and moving seats provide the experience of being delivered via helicopter into Rwanda. A virtual trek 10,000 feet up into the jungle introduces a live-action adventure as users have the opportunity to observe a family group of elusive and endangered mountain gorillas up-close in their natural habitat. Gorilla Trek is narrated by Tara Stoinski, PhD, President and CEO /Chief Scientific Officer of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Zoo Atlanta’s partner in gorilla conservation for more than 25 years.
“Zoo Atlanta is thrilled to introduce Gorilla Trek to our Members and guests. Many people will never have the opportunity to observe gorillas firsthand in Africa. Thanks to VR technology, we can introduce our visitors to this moving and inspiring experience,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO of Zoo Atlanta. “We are extremely proud that this experience also connects our guests to the outstanding work of our partners at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.”
Building on the work begun in 1967 by the late Dian Fossey, the Fossey Fund’s efforts have helped bring mountain gorillas back from the brink of extinction and they are the only non-human great ape population in the world currently on the rise. Their work also focuses on protecting the critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The organization’s international headquarters are housed at Zoo Atlanta. By providing office space, information technology support and financial support, Zoo Atlanta enables the Fossey Fund to focus resources on protecting wild gorillas and supporting the people who share their forest home.
“Gorilla VR brings viewers face-to-face with these amazing animals and their habitat in Rwanda. It is as close as you can get to seeing them in the wild, and I’m thrilled that the Atlanta community will have the opportunity to connect with them in such a personal way,” said Dr. Stoinski.
Western lowland gorillas are the only gorilla subspecies found in North American zoos; mountain gorillas and Grauer’s gorillas are only found in the wild. Home to one of North America’s largest populations of western lowland gorillas, Zoo Atlanta has a globally recognized program for the care and behavioral study of this subspecies, which is critically endangered. Wild populations have plummeted in recent years as a result of habitat loss, poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, and emerging diseases. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, these combined threats have reduced wild populations by 60 percent, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa.
The most recent addition to the Zoo’s gorilla population is Willie B., III, born to Shalia on April 24, 2023. The first offspring of Willie B., Jr., the infant continues the incredible legacy of his legendary late grandfather, Willie B., who connected generations of Atlantans with gorillas and their conservation.
Gorilla Trek will be open daily, barring inclement weather. Tickets may be purchased online in advance on zooatlanta.org or in person at the experience, which is located in Zoo Atlanta’s Flamingo Plaza. Tickets are $6 plus tax for Zoo Atlanta Members and $8 plus tax for non-Members. Guests must be 3 feet or taller to participate.
Plan a visit at zooatlanta.org.
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