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Today (Wednesday January 24) Bristol Zoological Society has launched an urgent appeal for £10,000 to help build a safe haven in Africa for orphaned western lowland gorillas.
They are the innocent victims of the brutal bush meat trade which sees thousands of adult gorillas slaughtered each year.
A total of 22 of these orphaned gorillas are being cared for by a sanctuary in Mefou National Park in Cameroon with which Bristol Zoological Society has worked for the past 20 years.
Gorillas such as Shufai, who was found as a baby with gunshot injuries after his mother was killed by hunters endured months of rehabilitation but eventually had to have his arm amputated above the elbow.
Similarly, Nona was hours away from death when she was rescued from a hunter’s camp. Wounded by the bullets that had killed her mother, she had been left for days without food or water. Nona was rescued just in time and taken to the sanctuary where she has grown into a beautiful young adult with a family of her own.
Now all the gorillas are in need of three bigger enclosures in which to live and remain safe.
Today Bristol Zoological Society is asking for help to raise the money needed for these enclosures. A team from Bristol Zoological Society is heading to Cameroon early in February to help build them.
Dr Grainne McCabe, head of field conservation and science at Bristol Zoological Society, said: “We hope everyone will want to help. These are amazing animals and every pound we receive will help to safeguard their future.
“When we started working with the sanctuary in 1998, all the orphaned animals were small and the initial enclosures were built with infant and juvenile apes in mind.
“Those orphans have now grown into formidable adults, and their space and grouping requirements have changed.”
She added: “Caring for orphaned apes is no easy task. While they may be cute and curious as infants, they soon grow into very large and very strong adults that are much more challenging to care for.”
Dr McCabe said larger enclosures built in the forest would allow several family groups and younger male gorillas to live together.
Western lowland gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red of Threatened Species and without the efforts of sanctuaries like the one in Mefou National Park they could be lost forever.
If you would like to make a donation to the appeal, please go here.
Bristol Zoological Society has been working on the conservation of western lowland gorillas in the wild since 2003 and also participates in a breeding programme which has seen two gorillas born at the Zoo since 2016.
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