Gorillas enjoy spring flowers

THE western lowland gorillas who live on an island in the lake at Longleat are enjoying a floral surprise after keepers created their own version of a host of golden daffodils around their lakeside enclosure.

The spring bouquets provided a new experience for the band of male great apes who were clearly intrigued by their unexpected gifts. Keepers at the safari park have been coming up with different ways to keep their bachelor group of lowland gorillas entertained ahead of the planned re-opening to the public on 12th April.

“Every year the area around the lake is carpeted with daffodils and it’s a sure sign spring is here,” said keeper, Ian Turner, who took these beautiful photographs. “We decided to pick some bunches of flowers and place them around the enclosure to see how Alf, Evindi, Yuba, Suwedi and Kesho would react.

“People are sometimes surprised at how dexterous and gentle these hugely powerful creatures can be and it was fascinating to see them carefully pick up individual stems and smell the flowers.

“Yuba was definitely the most interested and spent quite a lot of time closely inspecting his bouquet, while Evindi was a little more playful and ended up throwing his daffodils around,” he added.

While all five of the gorillas admired their floral gifts, none of them attempted to eat the daffodils which have a very bitter and unpleasant taste and can be toxic to pets.

Featuring more than a dozen mature trees in an extensive outdoor grassed area, the spacious gorilla enclosure overlooks Longleat’s Half Mile Lake and utilises natural boundaries wherever possible without the barriers of bars or glass.

In addition to the existing trees, keepers have installed a selection of outdoor climbing logs. The gorillas also share a large purpose built indoor complex with a communal area featuring ropes, swings and climbing apparatus.

Pictured: Some of the gorillas enjoying their floral treats; visitors get a view into the gorillas’ enclosure from the deck of a boat; photographs by Ian Turner