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One of Bristol Zoo Gardens popular gorillas, Touni, is celebrating her 10th birthday today – her first as a mum.
Touni came to the Zoo in September 2015 from La Vallee des Singes zoo in France as part of the gorilla European Endangered Species Programme.
She was introduced to the Zoo’s silverback Jock and in April this year she gave birth to her first baby – Ayana
Touni, being a first time mum, did not get everything right and shortly after Ayana was born she made the news because she spent most of her time facing backwards when Touni carried her on her back the wrong way round.
Mammals team leader Sarah Gedman, who spent time with Touni in France and accompanied her back to Bristol, said: “She is a really good mum. She’s quite protective and she doesn’t let Ayana go off too far on her own.”
Touni and her six fellow gorillas marked her birthday today with a special treat of coconuts.
Sarah said: “Jock and adult female gorillas will break open the coconuts with their teeth, the younger ones will smash them against hard surfaces.
“They all like the water in coconuts, it’s an enriching challenge for them and coconuts are similar to the tough skinned fruits gorillas would find in the wild.”
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 around 17 young gorillas, 90 chimpanzees and over 150 monkeys.
In Cameroon gorillas and chimpanzees are hunted for their meat and their young are often taken and sold as pets, often only to end up abandoned or dying of starvation.
Sanctuaries play a vital role in protecting and preserving this charismatic species by taking in orphaned chimps and gorillas, giving them medical attention and, most importantly, a safe home.
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