Work begins on havens for orphaned gorillas after Bristol Zoo appeal

​ Work is underway on building vital new havens for orphaned gorillas in Cameroon thanks to a £10,000 appeal by Bristol Zoological Society.

The appeal actually raised more than £12,000 and every penny will go towards three new enclosures for the western lowland gorillas.

Two members of staff from Bristol Zoo Gardens have spent the past fortnight at the sanctuary in Mefou National Park helping to build the first of the enclosures.

Head of maintenance Joe Allotey and senior electrician Stuart Castle worked in temperatures of up to 34C (93F) alongside seven of the staff at the sanctuary. 

The enclosures are being built in the forest beneath trees towering up to 70 metres tall. Each one will be more than 100 metres square.

Joe said: “We measured out the line for the fences working around the trees so they will have as little impact as possible.”

Stuart said the result will be a very natural environment for the gorillas, somewhere for several family groups and younger male gorillas to live together.

The new enclosures are needed because the orphaned gorillas have grown-up and now need bigger spaces in which to live and remain secure.

Joe and Stuart worked from 7.30am through to 5pm each day with just a 90 minute break for lunch during the hottest part of the day.

They also had to contend with four days of torrential rain which they said turned dirt tracks into rivers.

During their time at the sanctuary they helped to mix 10 tonnes of concrete for drain off areas, soak aways, trenches and fence foundations.

They also fixed water taps and used a fault finder to pinpoint problems with electric fences saving sanctuary staff hours of time tracing them.

Their visit is the latest by members of Bristol Zoological Society which has been working with the gorilla sanctuary for the past 20 years.

Stuart said: “Everyone was really friendly and they were all so grateful for the money that had been raised to help them.”

Joe and Stuart took photos of all the equipment at the sanctuary, including a generator which is identical to one at the Zoo, so they can help with any inquiries when things go wrong.

They also bought some new tools and equipment for maintenance staff at the sanctuary.

Joe said: “To be able to help to give support that was needed and know that we can give ongoing support now we are home is really satisfying.”


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