Monday, August 24, 2009

Silverbacks in the Blue Ridge

Oscar and his goats know when Jane is in the window, treats are in store.

Gorilla Haven
is a remarkable facility developed by Jane and Steuart Dewar in Morganton, GA., between Blue Ridge and Blairsville, and for a brief period you can travel inside its gates.

Jane envisioned a home, not unlike their original environments, where captive gorillas could be placed while better arrangements could be developed or found. Steuart, a genius at inventing, creating and building better mousetraps, made it happen on a level that no individual zoo or animal park could imagine or fund.

At the moment there are two gorillas loving life in their Haven: Oliver, a profoundly deaf but gentle and handsome giant who shares his compound with a pair of goats, and Joe, the third oldest gorilla in captivity, whose condition is a testament to the Dewars' quality of care.

With no outside funding and zoos too financially strapped to participate, the Dewars have begun opening their Haven to visitors for limited tours. Dates for this year are Sept. 5 and 9, October 10 and 14 and Nov. 28, all for 2-3 hours beginning at 11 a.m. Cost is a $50 donation per per adult, with a discounted family rate possible.

Tip: The terrain is mountainous, you'll be walking on gravel roads and there are flights of stairs to be climbed, but the experience is so unique it's worth pushing yourself. Bring your walking stick and of course, camera and video cam. Contact Emily Moreland at 706-851-9440 or Email

This could be your last opportunity to see these magnificent creatures. Oscar may be relocating to a gorilla family in a zoo this winter and Joe is defying veterinary science living as long as he has, but with extensive medical issues including a heart problem, no one knows for how much longer.

You'll never forget the delicacy with which these giants reach for favorite morsels of food. Or the thrill of experiencing the noise, power and stunning speed when Oscar decides to show off.

If you can't travel there in person, do learn more about this remarkable facility.


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