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New home for king of the swingers at Bristol Zoo Gardens

The family of gorillas at Bristol Zoo Gardens are set to benefit from a £1 million project to transform and enlarge their enclosure.

Work will get underway soon 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.

An artist's impression of the interior of the new gorilla 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.

John Partridge, Senior Curator of Animals at Bristol Zoo, said: “The refurbished gorilla house will offer an exciting, bigger space for the gorillas and will give our keepers and veterinary staff 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 give our gorillas and will allow us to house a greater number of them in future.”

He added: “We have a growing gorilla family at Bristol Zoo, most recently with the birth of baby Kukeña in September 2011, and we would like the family to grow even more in the 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 which, until recently, also housed the Zoo’s okapis.”

As well as expanding into the whole building, an extension will also be added to create a new food preparation area and additional space for keepers.

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.

Rightmove director, Miles Shipside, comments: “We’ve had a range of interesting properties listed on Rightmove over the years but this one must be king of the jungle when it comes to the strangest. In many ways it is not too dissimilar to the million or so properties we have on our site at any one time and features some desirable features such as large outdoor space, water features and Grade II listed status.”

He added: “Being on Rightmove helps thousands of sellers every year and we’re hopeful that listing the gorillas’ house on our site will raise awareness for their home-moving plans.”

Suzanne Robinson, Bristol Zoo Fundraiser, added: “As a registeredcharity 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 £5’ to70444 to donate £5 (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 at www.bristolzoo.org.uk/gorilla-house, by post or in person at the Zoo.  

Bristol Zoo’s gorilla house has been home to western lowland gorillas for 14 years, and previously housed elephants and giraffes. As well as housing the Zoo’s family of seven gorillas, the building has also recently been home to the Zoo’s rare okapis, which have now been re-homed in another paddock within the Zoo.

The gorillas at Bristol Zoo Gardens are part of an international conservation breeding programme for this critically endangered species.

All great ape species are facing serious losses in the wild caused by a number of issues including forest destruction for logging, diseases such as ebola and the slaughter of primates for the illegal bushmeat trade.

For more information about Bristol Zoo’s gorilla house project, visit the website at www.bristolzoo.org.uk/gorilla-house or phone 0117 974 7300. To see the gorilla house listing on Rightmove, visit www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-34066513.html

 An artist's impression of the inside of the new gorilla house

An exterior impression of the refurbished gorilla house

ENDS

For press enquiries please contact Bristol Zoo:

Lucy King, T: 0117 974 7306 or E: lking@bristolzoo.org.uk

Hannah Worrall, T: 0117 974 7309, or E: hworrall@bristolzoo.org.uk

Notes to the Editor:

Bristol Zoo Gardens

  • Bristol Zoo is open from 9am every day except Christmas Day. 
  • Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on income from visitors and supporters to continue its important work. 
  • Bristol Zoo is involved with more than 100 co-ordinated breeding programmes for threatened wildlife species. 
  • Itemploys over 150 full and part-time staff to care for the animals and run a successful visitor attraction to support its conservation and education work. 
  • Bristol Zoo supports – through finance and skill sharing - 15 projects in the UK and abroad that conserveand protectsome of the world’s most endangered species.
  • In 2011 Bristol Zoo celebrated its 175th birthday. Over that past 175 years, the Zoo has brought six generations of Bristolians closer to wildlife, helped save over 175 species from extinction, established over 30 field conservation and research programmes all over the world, showed 40 million school-aged children the wonder of nature and given more than 90 million visitors a wonderful day out.
  • In 2010 Bristol Zoo Gardens set up a Conservation Fund to raise vital funds to help care for threatened animals and plants – both in the Zoo and through the conservation work we do in the UK and around the world.
  • Bristol Zoo Gardens is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. BIAZA represents more than 90 member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.