June 9th, 2008
03:37 PM ET

Anderson's View: Gnawing on Ambien

View photos from Rwanda
View photos from Rwanda

Anderson Cooper

I'm not exactly sure what time it is. I'm still kind of jet lagged and two days of gnawing on ambien to sleep hasn't really helped me adjust to the time change.

We had a really cool day today, hiking to see a group of mountain gorillas in Rwanda that have never been visited by tourists. About half of Rwanda's endangered mountain gorillas are visited each day by tourists who pay as much as $500 per person to sit with the gorillas for one hour. It's an amazing experience, one I've done about seven or eight times over the last twenty years or so.

The other half of the gorillas are studied by scientists, and are not habituated to tourists. Today we visited the "Pablo group" named after the male silver back who used to control the group of about 40 or so gorillas. Pablo, however, is no longer the dominant male silver back. He has been replaced, though he is still allowed to be part of this group.

We hiked for about three hours before finding the gorillas, and though we were all pretty exhausted by the time we got there, it was awesome to be able to get so close to a group of gorillas usually only visited by scientists.

Tomorrow we leave Rwanda and head to a very remote part of Cameroon to go out with researchers who study viruses in the forest. It's all part of Planet in Peril: Battle Lines.

I've shot a little video blog that we will try to feed in shortly, and a photographer from Getty Images, Jeff Hutchens is with us, and we will try to post some of the pictures he has been taking each day. View photos from Rwanda

I would blog more, but I think the Ambien is kicking in, and I have to be up before dawn to catch a flight. See you on 360° tonight.

Editor's note: You can read about this and other Planet in Peril stories here.

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Planet in Peril
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Lisa L

    Dear Anderson,

    I hope you are enjoying your travels.

    The way you write almost transports me there.

    I admire your courage and believe your report will help the endangered gorillas and bring cures.

    I hope your jet lag is over and that you are taking care.

    Thank you.

    Lisa L,
    Sydney, Australia

    June 9, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  2. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Gnawing Ambien? Perhaps you just THINK you were with gorilla's today? Take Care. I look forward to the reports.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    June 9, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  3. EJ (USA)

    ANDERSON! Drugs to help you sleep? That is so not good. Though I am sure you have to know this. I can’t believe it! My heart sunk just reading that. Please, do yourself a favor and take better care of yourself, and find another way besides taking drugs to sleep or to wake up or whatever.

    In my opinion, one's health is worse if he or she chooses to go on for long periods of time without getting much sleep.

    Stress, anxiety, and everything else can tear one's body apart and when that person can't sleep, it's even worse (It can cause many more health problems).

    We don't want a grumpy sleep deprived Anderson do we? We want a happy vibrant well-rested Anderson with a great sense of humor!

    June 9, 2008 at 9:16 pm |
  4. Caroline

    Yay, finally a story on the environment. I'd give anything at this point to not hear anything regarding politics or the economy for five minutes. Your last excursion into the jungles ended in a very icky experience with tree frogs and I even got a little sqweemish when Jeff Corwin pulled that thing out of it's pillowcase .

    At least Gorillas are mammals, right? 🙂

    This entire series has been really exciting and innovative, thank you for covering it.

    June 9, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  5. Dawn T.-Pittsburgh, PA

    What beautiful pics! Great photogs and photojournalists make it look easy. Thanx for sharing. Hope you did something fun for your b-day.
    Looking forward to you package tonight.

    Stay safe 🙂

    June 9, 2008 at 8:57 pm |
  6. Carlotta,Italy

    After election in Italy, US Primary...I'm really looking forward to see your reports from Africa.Thanks all the Planet in Peril team. The b&w photos are so beautiful..Last saturday I've seen an Avedon exhibition in Milan; in the catalogue there was a wonderful photo of your mother, she is really a beatiful woman...Enjoy your exciting trip!!

    June 9, 2008 at 8:47 pm |
  7. Jacqueline

    ANDERSON! Drugs to help you sleep? That is so not good. Though I am sure you have to know this. I can't believe it! My heart sunk just reading that. Please, do yourself a favor and take better care of yourself, and find another way besides taking drugs to sleep or to wake up or whatever. Try taking more time off if you have to. Your health is more important.

    Take care and be well.

    JPHowell, NY

    June 9, 2008 at 8:45 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    Hi Anderson

    Hope you get some good sleep and get over the jet lag. I envy you your trip to see the gorillas – it may have been a tiring trip but I bet when you got there and saw the gorillas it didn't seem so bad. I'm looking forward to seeing your spectacular footage and your report – if the footage is as good as the pictures you posted then you have a winner!

    Am so glad you are doing PIP 2 – i learn something from every report about our planet and its wildlife. Its a wonderful series. See you tonight!

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 9, 2008 at 8:40 pm |
  9. anne-newfoundland,canada


    those pictures are amazing!

    I look forward to Planet In Peril 2-the first one was outstanding.

    I hope you and the 360 crew stay safe in your travels.

    It must be such an incredible experience to see the gorillas up close like that,and I look forward to seeing your report tonight.

    Hope you can get some rest as well.

    Take care.

    June 9, 2008 at 8:36 pm |
  10. Kathy

    Hey Anderson,
    You always look so at home – away from home. Looking forward to PIP 2. Keep up the excellent work!
    Stay safe.

    June 9, 2008 at 8:36 pm |
  11. Ratna, New York, NY

    You are very photogenic Anderson! 🙂 ^)

    June 9, 2008 at 8:33 pm |
  12. Jean


    Although, this planet is very much in peril, you always manage to bring us some wonder and beauty as well. I look forward to 360 every night! Thanks.


    June 9, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  13. Maritza

    Here is one job assignment I envy you on, tracking up there is worth the the effort, How breathtaking when you finally see them in the wild up close, could not believe you've been there so many times, I have a picture above my desk of you and a flirty young female gorailla she's looking at you while swinging around a tree, these animals are so beautiful and so intelligent , I can't leave the zoo , they also give a sence of calm , thanks for this report , preservation is so critical for these innocent animals , please don't chomp on the Ambien , my medical background tells my it has a lingering effect, last thing you need is groggy motor skills, and a silverback wanting to hug or sit on you, kiss a gorilla for me...


    June 9, 2008 at 7:46 pm |
  14. Sara.Ro

    It's a real privilege for entire Planet to see Anderson's reportages from the wild life and battlle lines, but he's more precious in another place.

    June 9, 2008 at 7:26 pm |
  15. Jana, Indiana

    Anderson, I know you have to be so happy being back with the mountain gorillas. We are all looking forward to your reports from the area.

    Watch that ambian, remember the reports that your show has done on this medicine. I would hate for you to sleep walk around those mountains.

    Be careful

    June 9, 2008 at 7:15 pm |
  16. Christina

    Hey Anderson

    Awww, poor Pablo was replaced. How rude! Why was he replaced? Did a new blue eyed silverback come around or did he get too old? Must be like our culture, age isn't respected. It must be an amazing experience being so close to such magnificent creatures. I hope you have time to enjoy it, even if you are working.

    Thanks for blogging and letting us know you're safe, even though you probably need to be sleeping instead. Sleep well, be careful, and come home safe.

    Windber, PA

    June 9, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  17. EJ (USA)

    How exciting! What a thrill it must be to be able to film the gorillas.

    Perhaps Anderson has those daredevil genes. You would have to pay me a lot of money to come close to 500 lb gorillas. I'd do it for maybe $10,000.

    If even one gorilla lays one hand on Anderson, all of his fans are coming after Mr. Gorilla – so we can teach him a lesson.

    June 9, 2008 at 6:50 pm |
  18. Lori, Boston

    Hi Anderson,

    How exciting! What a thrill it must be to be able to film the gorillas.
    I hope you get the rest you need. Have a great show.

    June 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  19. EJ (USA)

    It is so fun to read about Anderson's travels.

    I admit I would be totally afraid that the gorillas were going to come after me and beat me up, but I don't have Anderson's fearlessness.

    About the Ambien - Is it really ok to gnaw on Ambien Anderson? It doesn't work for you when you just swallow it with some water (like I do)? Well we all hope you get enough rest (& be careful there!!)

    Can't wait to see your preview tonight!

    June 9, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  20. EJ (USA)

    Hi Megan O.

    I wish I was in Rwanda right now……

    Well that's a sentence you don't hear everyday!

    June 9, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  21. Kristien,Antwerp, Belgium

    Hey Anderson,

    The pictures are amazing, Jeff obviously knows his skill!

    I'm looking forward to seeing the PIP 2 reports and I'm very happy that Lisa Ling will join you and Dr Sanjay this year, I've always loved her work!

    Stay safe and see you tonight!

    June 9, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  22. Jo Ann

    Dear Anderson,

    It is so wonderful to see you back in the field again! The atmospheric quality of Jeff’s photos is romantically breathtaking; I hope to someday experience it for myself!

    How exciting it must have been to see a group of mountain gorillas that has never been visited by tourists before! I am sure they were just as fascinated by you! I can only imagine your mounting anticipation during the three-hour hike to visit the “Pablo group.” It is a small price to pay to be able to experience these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

    I don’t know about the Ambien, but I hope you took your malaria medicine.

    I cannot wait to see your report from Rwanda tonight. I hope you got some rest.

    Stay safe,
    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    June 9, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  23. pati mc., camp hill, pa

    Hi Anderson,

    Sure hope you were able to sleep. It's a shame you have to take sleeping pills though. Don't they make you feel hungover when you wake up? Please be careful.

    Wow, I have to admit that I am really envious of you. I would pay anything to get to spend some time with the beautiful and fascinating mountain gorillas. It is a lifelong dream of mine. Someday!

    Your photographs are incredibly beautiful and I thank you. Kinda make us all feel like we are there in a small way. Nice of you to send them.

    You guys travel safe and be well. Thanks for the update. Cannot wait to see the packages you are working on.

    June 9, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  24. Sarah M

    Hey Anderson......

    Staty safe in your travels. I have never been to Africa, and some day I hope to go. Thanks for blogging on the road!

    June 9, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  25. Karen

    Hey Anderson:

    The photographs are beautiful.

    The three hour hike sounds awesome – I've been waiting all day – for the heat to subside a little – to do that.

    I'm not so sure how I feel about humans having so much interaction with the gorillas. Did anyone ever tell you not to feed stray animals – they told me – I see it the same way. But when you use the word scientist it makes it sound ok. I understand Rwanda is generating a good deal of capitol – but to do anything for money – well you might as well sell your soul to the devil. I just hope more good comes out of this.

    June 9, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  26. Rekha Joy Raman

    Hi Anderson,

    I would suggest Valium(diazepam) instead of Ambien since its been around for quite sometime- maybe decades. Ambien seems to be a relatively newer drug but belongs to a different class of pharmacology than Valium. Unless you've had Valium before and it didn't work. Please don't use these too frequently. Maybe mountain gorilla dreams would help you catch up on your sleep!

    Superb, stunning pictures and I must commend Jeff, the photographer on his amazing photography skills. Can't wait for your video blog Anderson.
    I like your happy mood on shot 8.

    Looking forward to this evening on your live broadcast, Rwanda time.
    Have a safe trip and flight to Camaroon. And please don't freak out on Ambien. It must be a great blessing to be with those awesome gorillas in the mist.

    Take care now.

    June 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  27. Chianne - Minnesota

    Fantastic photos! Safe travels!

    June 9, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  28. Minou, New York City

    Hi Anderson,
    I guessed you were on your way to beautiful Rwanda when you weren't there on Friday..
    It's such a privilege to be able to get so close to the gorillas and share a moment of their lives with them. It's a dream of mine to do that; or let's call it a plan !
    I blog with the rangers from Virunga National Park. They keep us updated on how the gorilla groups are doing and how the illegal coal trade is doing and such. It's a fascinating blog, you get the story from the person living it! Can't beat that.

    Try melatonin instead of Ambien and those drugs. Your body produces melatonin naturally when it gets dark and my mom swears by it.
    Have fun with the PIP team, I'm looking forward to the shows from Africa!!
    Get Neil a gin-tonic for me, will ya.

    June 9, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  29. Zarin


    so excited to see your report from rwanda tonight! There are several tips online to how to deal with the jet lag in case the ambien doesn't work.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  30. Fay, CA

    Anderson, sounds like PIP2 is starting to kick into high gear. Your reports from Africa have been something I've really enjoyed over the years and the periodic glimpses of the beautiful silver back gorillas that you and the 360 team have brought us is one of the main reasons for that. Get a little rest and stay safe over there.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  31. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    Amazing pictures.

    You look so tired in the #9 shot.

    Yoga and chamomile tea help to soothe.

    Thank you guys, especially the crew who isn't in front of the camera, for showing us this place.

    Anderson gets most of the credit because he is on film but they do a lot of the work too.

    Go rest.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  32. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    How awesome. The first mother-infant pair I adopted through The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International was part of Pablo's group (Ntobo and Icyi). They just reinforced this need to always want to help their species survive. I am so glad you follow-up with these animals. They are just so close to us, and they tell us so much about our own species. The work you do over there for the people and the gorillas is part of your calling. I'm looking forward to watching the reports. Sleep well. And stay safe.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  33. Jolene

    Anderson: It will be refreshing to see you out in the field again! I'm a sucker for an animal story so I'll be looking forward to the PIP2 sneak peak! Nice pics, I like the Black & White effect. Always appreciate when you blog. Thanks.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    June 9, 2008 at 4:43 pm |
  34. Delphine, France

    I love Planet in Peril Series and I love Africa. Two good reasons to be awake at 4 am, just to be sure the DVR is running! I don't want to miss it! I cant wait to watch it!

    The Jeff Hutchens' pics are AWESOME!


    June 9, 2008 at 4:41 pm |
  35. Paula, Colorado

    Hi. I'm glad you are finally able to travel freely–with the primary election season over. The photographs you've posted are great. The second Planet In Peril sounds fascinating. I look forward to tonight's program. Stay safe!

    June 9, 2008 at 4:41 pm |
  36. jamie

    Hey ACoop,

    I am so jealous that you get to see the gorillas AGAIN! That sounds fascinating. Cameroon is a great place to visit from what I have heard, get your French ready.

    Be careful with that Ambien, don't want you sleepwalking off the plane!

    June 9, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  37. Pamina

    Hi Anderson,
    I can't wait to see your footage of the gorillas! They are such amazing animals, there is so much we don't know! What is the focus of the research with this group? Looking forward to tonight! Have a safe trip.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  38. Megan Dresslar

    Hi Anderson,
    Wow! you look tired tonight...... I hope you will take rest for while.... Oh! I love your program Planet in Peril! so awesome documentary! I'm so amazing to see 2 gorillas or endangers........ I am praying for you and your safety.... I will see you tonight, Missed you on blog and program.
    I missed you last Friday night, Erica Hill took over or subbing for you. She was so great to help fill-in anchor. See you there tonight! 🙂
    I will be there to join blog tonight...... Hope you will take care yourself!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    June 9, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  39. Lilibeth

    Hi Anderson, I can’t wait for the broadcast tonight. One of your staff has blogged about Rwanda…the fact that ecotourism there as a result of the protection of the mountain gorillas provides much-needed revenue for this impoverished country.

    Sleep tight, Anderson…well, at least until the show is about to come on.

    Safe travels. Tell Neil to take it easy on those gin and tonics. LOL!

    Edmonds, Washington

    June 9, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  40. Diane N.

    Hang in there Anderson.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  41. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hey Anderson!
    Sorry to hear the Coop is pooped!
    How cool to be able to get that close to the mountain and silver back gorillas!
    Even more cool is the fact that you are there to tell their story. I am sure if they could they would thank you but not to worry, I'll do it for them, "THANK YOU!"
    I love the planet in peril series and what's more, 360 is WAY ahead of it's time by doing this. . . or is everyone else late?
    I'm looking so forward to tonight's program and I am very excited to see the footage you guys shot.
    Take care and get some rest,
    We'll see you tonight at your very best! 😉

    June 9, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  42. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    It would appear that Pablo didn't do so well in the gorilla caucuses. Maybe the new dominant silverback will allow him to be vice silverback to bring the factions together. Or perhaps a cabinet post, like Secretary of Bananas, would be a good fit.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  43. missy

    Hope to see John K. helping you out in the studio! Get some rest.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  44. Sarah, Atlanta GA

    Sounds like you are having fun even though you are tired, Anderson. I am really looking foward to PIP II.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  45. Stacy

    Ambien? Haven't you watched all those reports from your own show? 360 has taught me Ambien is evil (just kidding, Ambien-makers).

    I'm really excited for the show tonight. The mountain gorillas are amazing and it's great to be getting a break from politics.

    June 9, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  46. Judy Stage

    Hey Anderson, I had a feeling that you were on the move, away from the blistering hot New York City.
    Personally, I have had enough of politics for awhile and am happy to see a change in 360.
    Go easy on the Ambien, sleep walking is one of the side effects.
    See ya tonight.

    June 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  47. Michael, NC

    Man, that Ambien is a life saver sometimes. It is great to hear of the early stages of filming coming from you guys. I am greatly anticipating this coverage, and have been since the first PIP coverage stopped. It is good to see that politics are taking the back seat for a while, I was beginning to turn the channel whenever they came up.
    Best of wishes to you and the crew as you work overseas, I look forward to the segment and your live broadcast tonight (even though I really enjoyed Erica in the big man's chair, she's always good to look at). 🙂

    June 9, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  48. Kim

    Wow, that sounds exhausting! I only had six hours time difference on Saturday and my body is still having a hard time adjusting.

    Please keep sharing your experiences! It's almost as good as being there...

    Thank you to you and the whole team!

    June 9, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  49. Cindy

    I thought that you would be on your way to Rwanda over the weekend. I am glad that you made it there safely. Too bad that you can't sleep though. I just hope those many Ambien that you are gnawing on doesn't kick in at the wrong time! We don't need ya falling a sleep on air! LOL Now that would be a new one for ya! LOL

    I would LOVE to go and see the mountain gorillas! They are so beautiful! You are WAY too lucky! At least we get to see what you shot today and can live vicariously through that! LOL

    Hope that you get some rest after all of your flying and your major trek up to the gorillas. You all stay safe over there. And I'll be looking forward to your reports!

    C-Ya tonight!! Well if you can wake up from all of that Ambien that is! LOL


    June 9, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  50. Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada

    I wish I was in Rwanda right now......I would seriously give anything to be there. Sounds like you have had a very productive and fun day. Can't wait to see what you have to show us tonight.

    Have fun but everyone stay safe on your travels to Cameroon!!!!!!!!

    June 9, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
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