Oldest gorilla in UK celebrates her 60th birthday

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Delilah is the oldest Gorilla in the UK

By Jonathan McCambridge (PA)

The oldest gorilla in the UK is celebrating her 60th birthday at Belfast Zoo.

Delilah, who has been at the zoo for more than 30 years, shot to fame in the 1970s when she starred in the BBC show Animal Magic with Johnny Morris.

Delilah was part of the first gorilla group at Belfast Zoo when she arrived in the city in 1992.

Zoo keeper Simon Beasley said: “Delilah is turning 60 and is the second oldest in Europe.

“She has been with us at Belfast for the past 31 years and still has a lot of character despite her advanced age for a gorilla.

“Delilah is a dream animal to work with and will engage with the keepers and enjoys when you talk to her during her breakfast in the morning.”

Due to her advanced age, Delilah enjoys lots of additional support from her keepers.

Zoo keeper Demi Cummings said: “Delilah is a real character within the troop and has been an absolute pleasure to work with here at Belfast Zoo.

“Delilah receives a special diet of root vegetables and a milky drink with added supplements to ease her aches and pains.

“She has also lost some of her teeth and, therefore, receives extra food which has been carefully steamed.”

Delilah lives with the rest of the gorilla troop, including silverback Gugas, Kwanza, Kamili, Namoki, Baako, Olivia and Kofi.

Ms Cummings added: “Delilah has been a loving grandparent figure within the group.

“She is often seen engaging and playing with the youngest gorilla, two-year-old Kofi.

“These animals are incredibly social, and every member of the troop plays an important role in the family dynamic.”

Western lowland gorillas are a highly endangered great ape species found in the rainforests of West Africa.

Recent estimates show fewer than 200,000 gorillas remain in the wild today.

Zoo manager Alyn Cairns said: “Western lowland gorillas are in serious decline due to destruction of their habitats, poaching and disease.

“Belfast Zoo is part of a collaborative breeding programme, and we play an important role in gorilla conservation.

“It is a credit to the care provided by keepers at Belfast Zoo that while being the oldest gorilla in the UK and second oldest in Europe, Delilah is fit and healthy.

“We take pride in our responsible approach to animal care to ensure the continued excellence and best practice towards the welfare of all the zoo’s animals.”

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