The Mysterious Disappearance of the Nature Photographers


Janet hung from a tree branch, slyly snapping photo after photo of the serene silverback and his family as they contemplated sticks covered in termites. They were all plump and smelly, reminding Janet of her own childhood.

“What the rabid giraffe are you doing up there?” The barking demand startled Janet, and her hand flew to her mouth. Too late, she realized that hand had been the only anchor keeping her affixed to the tree. She plunged down into the center of the circle of gorillas. Like a pond into which one has thrown a rock, the animals scattered to all sides.

Victor loomed over Janet, his arms crossed over his barrel-chest. As she struggled to her feet, he chided, “You’ve ruined everything! Now we’ll have to wait for the stupid beasts to forget their panic before we can get more pictures.”

“They’re not stupid,” Janet said softly.

“What was that?” Victor snapped.

“They know how to love themselves, stick with their families, and live without destroying the planet with plastic and coal. They’re centuries more advanced than humankind.” Janet’s voice rose as she spoke.

“Are you suggesting these primitive organisms are better than us?” Victor raised his eyebrows.

The gorillas started to reemerge from the foliage, peering at the homo sapiens curiously.

Janet bit her lip, knowing she shouldn’t say the words hovering at the tip of her tongue. But the gorillas were murmuring like a mob, closing the circle around Janet and Victor, and finally she opened her mouth. “These gorillas are certainly less primitive than you!” she shouted, so loud it echoed through the forest. “They don’t lie to their wives about their relationships with their coworkers, nor do they cover their bodies with clothing and chemicals or listen to obscene music!”

Victor’s face was red as a tomato. He drew back his fist, preparing to hit this girl, regardless of her gender and his itching desire for her raw beauty.

Janet stood in place, paralyzed. She was barely aware of the danger, caught up in the battle for dominance she felt she had just won by making Victor lose it.

Just before that heavy fist could connect with Janet’s jaw, it was arrested in mid-air by a dark gray palm. The silverback of the family stood on two feet between the woman and her attacker.


Victor swore and attempted to tackle this obstacle. The two rolled in the grass until the females scuttled forward, some holding babies, and worked together to pull the adversaries apart. One female lifted Victor into the air with one hand and threw him above the canopy, over the forest and far from the African continent.

“What am I going to do now?” Janet wondered aloud. She didn’t like Victor, but he was the only one with a license to fly their helicopter back to the US. Janet didn’t even know how to turn the thing on.

One of the female gorillas pointed at Janet. Her finger pressed against the woman’s collarbone. Then the gorilla pointed the same finger at herself, touching her heart. The group began marching north, and the silverback gestured with his head that Janet was to follow. No English sentences could have been more clear. Janet was with her new family.


Image credits in order of appearance:

“WesternLowlandGorilla” by Ltshears – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

“Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) closeup eating” by Jackhynes – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Joachim Huber [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


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