Latest news:

Rare primates arrive at Bristol Zoo Gardens - 06/08/12

Two impressive-looking brothers have arrived at Bristol Zoo Gardens.

Donga and Boki are drill monkeys, one of Africa’s rarest and most threatened primate and this is the first time Bristol Zoo has kept this species.

The pair arrived from Woburn Safari Park this week; making Bristol Zoo just the fourth collection in Great Britain to have these endangered primates. 

The brothers, who are aged eight and nine,are now settling into their new home, which is immediately inside the zoo, next to the flamingo enclosure.

Assistant Curator of Mammals, Lynsey Bugg, said: “We’re really excited to be getting the brothers here at Bristol Zoo. These are very large and very clever primates so they should be a joy to see and look after and we are looking forward to getting to know their individual personalities.”

The arrival of the drills at Bristol Zoo has come on the recommendation of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

Lynsey added: “Donga and Boki are very close so it is great that they have been re-homed together. At present there aren’t any female drills in the breeding programme that need re-homing, but eventually we hope to be able to introduce females to the brothers and begin a breeding family for these very endangered primates.

In the wild, drills mostly live in the lowland and coastal forests of Western Africa - in the countries of Cameroon, Nigeria, and on the coastal island of Bioko. 

Donga and Boki as youngstersNumbers of drills in the wild have been steadily declining for several decades due to hunting, habitat destruction and human development. There are now thought to be fewer than 3,000 left in their native habitat of Nigeria and Cameroon.  Across the world there are only 79 in captivity across 18 zoos.

Because this species’ population has declined by 50 per cent over the past 30 years, the drill is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an ‘Endangered’ species. This means that the species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

For more information about visiting Bristol Zoo Gardens, visit the website at or phone 0117 974 7300.


Notes to the Editor:

Drill monkeys

  • Drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus) are primates that are closely related to baboons and mandrills. 
  • Donga and Boki were born at Hannover Zoo in Germany in 2003 and 2004.
  • The drill is similar in appearance to the mandrill, but lacks the distinctive face coloration of mandrills. 
  • Male drills have huge canine teeth and are much larger than the females. 
  • In the wild, drills are omnivorous and have a wide, varied diet.
  • At Bristol Zoo the pair will be fed a wide range fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, insects and meat.  
  • Bristol Zoo Gardens has, for many years, supported Ape Action Africa, a charity working hard to prevent primate extinction in Cameroon, through caring for confiscated orphans of the bushmeat trade, and educating people about the bushmeat trade and habitat destruction.

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.