Vilavu is a young female mountain gorilla that lives in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an African country. In this National Park, the mountain gorillas live in separate family groups called troops. Almost all gorillas love to play, but each troop has their own set of rules to follow.
Vilavu is a part of the Mapuwa troop. The Mapuwa troop includes 22 males, females, and children who eat, play, and travel through the forest together. There are many troops, but they don't often mix. Vilavu, now 6 years old, has begun learning the Mapuwa troop rules.
Young mountain gorillas, such as Vilavu and her cousins, learn the rules by observing adult mountain gorillas. One rule of the Mapuwa troop is that the children must wait until everyone else eats before they can eat. The male troop leader, the silverback, eats first. After he eats, the other adult gorillas eat, followed by the children. Vilavu also learns to build a sleeping nest out of the materials she finds in the forest.
Vilavu loves to play with the other gorillas. One day, she was wrestling one of her cousins as they tumbled down a hill. When they reached the bottom, Vilavu and her cousin were making noises that sounded like laughter. When Vilavu plays, she learns the personalities of her peers. For example, Vilavu learned that her cousin, Palumate, is shy. Learning their personalities will help Vilavu understand how to interact with her peers as they grow together.
Soon Vilavu will grow into an adult mountain gorilla. When she grows up, she will be in her mother's place, teaching her young how to play, catch food, and follow the rules.