Gorilla is left unimpressed by birthday celebrations

17 Aug 2011

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A gorilla was left looking unimpressed by his keeper’s attempts at celebrating his 50th birthday.

Perhaps Nico – Europe’s oldest silverback – was expecting a ‘person-a-gram’ (there’d be no point getting him a gorilla-gram, after all), but he appeared a bit fed up when he was presented with a bunch of roses by staff at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire.

He took hold of the flowers and sniffed them before giving everyone an icy look that Anna Wintour would be proud of and throwing them to the floor in disgust.

Zookeeper Mark Tye quickly implemented plan B and Nico cheered up a little when a specially-made banana-shaped cake arrived covered in fruit, which he promptly devoured.

Unperturbed, Mr Tye explained that Nico is always quite hard to please.

“It’s difficult to think of new ideas as he’s pretty much got everything already,” he added.

He’s not kidding either – Nico lives in a special house made of bricks on his own personal island with all the mod cons, including central heating and – bizarrely – a television.

Wonder what he watches while he relaxes after a hard day crowd-pleasing?

Nico arrived at Longleat in 1966 from Switzerland and is the oldest animal they look after.

Meanwhile, it seems the gorillas at Paignton Zoo in Devon are a lot less diva-like, with one even fundraising for charity.

Kumbuka, a blackback gorilla, will strip bark from lengths of hazel if they are passed to her in her enclosure.

She then hands them back to warden Dave Ellacott, who sands and varnishes them before selling them on eBay as walking sticks to raise money for ape conservation.

Gorillas are one of the world’s most endangered animals, with mountain gorillas particularly vulnerable.

Estimates from the World Wildlife Fund suggest there are only 782 of the species left in the wild.

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