The family of gorillas at Bristol Zoo Gardens are set to benefit from a £1 million project to transform and enlarge their enclosure.
Work has now gotten underway to refurbish and extend the existing enclosure to provide more than double the amount of space for the Zoo’s growing family of western lowland gorillas.
The new enclosure will include climbing facilities, ropes and play equipment and an indoor pool. There will also be additional ‘dens’ for the gorillas and weighing scales built into the floor. Improved speaker systems will also allow greater communication between keepers and our guests.
The improved house will also offer a new atrium-style glass entrance lobby for zoo guests, offering enhanced indoor viewing of the gorillas and a host of new educational and interactive displays.
This project has been possible with the help of everyone who supported Wow! Gorillas last year. But we need your help to add the finishing touches and make this space the very best breeding facility for our endangered family.
As registered charity, the Zoo relies entirely on the support of our guests and donors. Every penny really does make a difference and this project offers you a tangible way to make a long lasting contribution towards gorilla conservation.
There are many ways to donate. The quickest and easiest way is to join our text campaign, by texting ZOO APE to 70444 you can donate £3 to our campaign*. You can also donate online, by post or in person at the Zoo.
Meet our gorilla family
View our gorilla house on rightmove
Gorilla house Q&A's (click on the headers for more information):
What work are you doing on the gorilla house?
We have a growing family of gorillas at Bristol Zoo, most recently with the birth of baby Kukeña in September 2011, and we would like the family to grow further in future.
To do this, we want the indoor accommodation to be the best it possibly can be, so we are expanding the indoor gorilla enclosure, taking over the whole Grade II listed building. It has, up until recently, also housed the Zoo’s okapi.
As well as expanding into the whole building, including raising the ceiling to its original height and using the area previously used by the okapi, we are adding an extension near the hippo house to create a new food preparation area and additional space for the keepers.
What features will the new gorilla house have?
The new gorilla house will offer a really big and exciting space for the gorillas and will give our keepers much greater flexibility in their day-to-day management and care of the group. This will, in turn, further improve the level of care and welfare we can give our gorillas and will allow us to house a greater number of them in future.
The new house will include features such as climbing and play equipment and an indoor shallow pool. There will also be additional ‘dens’ for the gorillas and weighing scales built into the floor. Improved speaker systems will also allow greater communication between keepers and our guests.
The improved house will offer a new atrium-style glass entrance lobby for zoo guests, offering enhanced indoor viewing of the gorillas and a host of new educational and interactive displays.
Why is this work being undertaken? / Why do you need a new gorilla house?
Bristol Zoo is home to a thriving family of critically endangered western lowland gorillas. Our participation in the conservation breeding programme for gorillas is very important and enlarging our gorilla accommodation will give us the space to expand the family group further in future.
In September 2011, we welcomed our latest baby gorilla, called Kukeña, and we would like the family to grow further in the future. To do this we need additional space to accommodate a growing family comfortably.
In addition, Bristol Zoo has the skills and experience to take in orphaned gorillas that need new homes. An example of this was when an orphan gorilla called Kera joined Bristol Zoo in September 2008. She came to Bristol from Stuttgart Zoo in Germany to become socialised and form part of our gorilla breeding programme. An enlarged gorilla house gives us greater flexibility to do this again in future.
Gorilla breeding and the re-homing of orphan gorillas is coordinated as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, managed by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
How big will the new gorilla house be?
The new house gorilla house will be more than double the size of the existing accommodation.
How many gorillas will you be able to accommodate in the new house?
How long will the gorilla house build/refurbishment take?
We anticipate the work to take approximately one year as we want to ensure the work is carried out responsibly and at a steady pace in order to ensure the wellbeing of our gorilla family while delivering a quality new exhibit offering an enhanced experience for our guests.
Where will the gorillas go while this work is taking place? / How will the work be done around the gorillas?
The gorillas will be staying in the existing gorilla enclosure while the work is undertaken around them.
The project has been planned in two phases. The first phase will see the enlargement of the gorilla house in the area which previously housed the okapi. This will allow the gorillas to stay in their current accommodation while the work is undertaken.
Once this phase is complete, the gorillas will move over into the new area and will be given time to settle into their new enclosure quietly. Once the gorillas are settled in, the second phase will then begin, which will see the refurbishment of the existing side of the gorilla enclosure.
How will you ensure the work doesn’t disturb the gorillas/minimise stress to the gorillas?
The health and wellbeing of our gorillas is our priority at all times and we will do everything in our power to ensure the building work is as stress-free as possible for the gorillas.
We will be working very closely with our builders to ensure noise levels are monitored so as to minimise disturbance. If necessary we will ask the builders to stop working for periods of time. The gorillas will have access outside onto Gorilla Island as normal and our experienced team of keepers and on-site vets will be keeping a very close eye on the gorilla family.
We have explored a range of options, including re-homing the gorillas off-site while the work is being undertaken. We also took advice from experts on the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, who agreed that moving them off site would not be in the gorillas’ best interest as they are happiest in familiar surroundings and with the keepers that they know and trust.
Bristol Zoo has a long-standing history of expertise in gorilla husbandry and welfare (including breeding the first UK gorilla in captivity, Daniel, at Bristol Zoo in March 1971) and we are confident that we have the skills, experience and facilities to ensure our gorillas are cared for to the highest possible standard while their exciting new home is being created.
Will we still be able to see the gorillas when we visit Bristol Zoo?
Yes, we are increasing the number of outdoor gorilla feeds so that our guests will have more opportunities to see our family of gorillas on Gorilla Island. In poor or cold weather there may be periods of time where the gorillas prefer to be indoors, and the gorilla house is closed to the public while the work is being carried out. We therefore apologise for any inconvenience if this occurs during your visit.
Monitors will also be set up outside the house, while the work is underway, showing the gorillas when they are indoors.
Once the new gorilla house is finished it will also offer a much better viewing experience for our guests, including a new atrium-style glass entrance lobby for the public and a host of new educational and interactive displays.
How much will the project cost?
Approximately £1 million. This takes into account the animal welfare requirements and the fact that we are working with a listed building.
As a charity, how is the Zoo paying for this work? (Wow! Gorilla auction?)
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and is very grateful for the generous income and support of the public and other organisations. This helps fund our important work in the Zoo, but also our conservation and research projects around the world.
Bristol Zoo’s fundraising activities also help support our work, and a large part of the funds raised from the auction of the ‘Wow! Gorillas’ sculptures last autumn will be put towards this project.
In addition to our own funding, Bristol Zoo has set up a donation facility for anyone who would like to contribute to the creation of the gorillas’ new home. You can support the gorilla house project by making a contribution online, by text, by post or in person at the Zoo.
Text ZOO APE £5 to 70444 to donate £5 (plus your operator’s standard network charge). Bristol Zoo receives 100% of your donation. Don’t forget to obtain the bill payer’s permission. Customer care 08448479800.
What is the listing on Rightmove all about?
Bristol Zoo has teamed up with online property search engine Rightmove to ‘list’ the gorilla house on their website in a light-hearted campaign to raise awareness and funds for the gorilla house build.
As a registered charity the Zoo relies entirely on the support of our visitors and donors. Every penny really does make a difference and our gorilla house project offers a tangible way to make a long lasting contribution towards gorilla conservation.
If you would like to donate to Bristol Zoo’s gorilla house project, you can join our text campaign: Text ‘ZOO APE’ to 70444 to donate £3 (plus your operator’s standard network charge). Bristol Zoo receives 100 per cent of your donation. Don’t forget to obtain the bill payer’s permission. You can also donate online, by post or in person at the Zoo.
For more information about the Rightmove partnership, visit www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-34066513.html
*Text Costs £3.00 plus network charge. Bristol Zoo Gardens receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payers permission. Customer care 08448479800. Charity No 1104986.