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Bristol Zoo Gardens’ smallest gorilla celebrated her upcoming birthday with a very colourful vegetable cake.
But before little Ayana, who turns two next Monday (April 22), could get a bite, her dad Jock, tucked in.
Silverback Jock headed straight for the cake made by Bristol vegetable suppliers Total Produce and pulled out sticks of celery and red peppers.
And it was some time before Ayana and mum, Touni, got a taste.
But they eventually got to share a delicious pumpkin which was at the heart of the cake.
The celebration took place during the gorillas’ breakfast time feed, watched by Zoo visitors.
Standing just 18 inches tall Ayana is never far away from her mum, Touni, and it will be another two to three years until she is largely independent.
Lynsey Bugg, curator of mammals at Bristol Zoo, said: “Ayana is a thriving, healthy gorilla. She is getting more adventurous all the time but she still remains close to her mum.
“They spend most of their days together on Gorilla Island but even when Ayana is off playing with her older siblings Afia and Kukeña, Touni will be around to keep a watchful eye, to ensure they are not playing too rough for the youngest member of the group.”
Lynsey said Ayana was an important part of the group which is crucial to the survival of Western lowland gorillas.
Those at Bristol Zoo live on Gorilla Island which is sponsored by Nessy Learning Ltd and are part of a European breeding programme which aims to help preserve this species for future generations.
Mum, Touni, came to Bristol from La Vallee des Singes Zoo in France four years ago and her dad, Jock, arrived at Bristol from London Zoo in 2003. Ayana is Touni’s first offspring.
Bristol Zoological Society has been involved in primate conservation since the late 1990s, supporting projects to prevent some of the most charismatic species from becoming extinct.
Alongside working with local communities, Bristol Zoo also supports the largest gorilla sanctuary in Africa, which is home to 117 rescued chimpanzees, 23 gorillas and 150 monkeys
In Cameroon gorillas and chimpanzees are hunted for their meat and their young are often taken and illegally sold as pets, often only to end up abandoned or dying of starvation.
Sanctuaries play a vital role in law enforcement in primate range states, protecting and preserving these charismatic species by taking in confiscated chimps and gorillas, giving them medical attention and, most importantly, a safe home.
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