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The welfare of the gorillas is the top priority according to the Bristol Zoo Project

Image source, Bristol Zoological Society

Image description, The gorillas at Bristol Zoo Gardens in Clifton have not yet moved to their new home

  • Author, Chloe Harcombe
  • Role, BBC News, West England

A zoo closed to the public has said the welfare of its animals is its “top priority” after a video of gorillas in one of its enclosures emerged on social media.

Bristol Zoo Gardens said “intruders” gained access to the Clifton site, which will close in September 2022, on June 25.

On Wednesday, footage was posted on TikTok raising concerns about the way the gorillas are being kept in the enclosure.

Brian Zimmerman, director of conservation and science at the Bristol Zoological Society, said: “Our experienced keepers and dedicated animal welfare team continue to care for the gorillas… just as they did when the site was open to the public.”

He added that the zoo was taking the incident “extremely seriously and had reported it to the police.”

The gorillas are being kept at the Clifton site while construction work is carried out on the larger Bristol Zoo project in the north of the city, where the gorillas will be relocated next year.

Mr Zimmerman said: “The care and welfare of our animals is and always has been our top priority.

“The gorillas have access to a large outdoor area and several indoor rooms. The temperature of their habitat is carefully controlled to match the warm temperatures of Equatorial Guinea, where they would live in the wild.”

Image source, Bristol Zoo, CGI produced by Blackpoi

Image description, A new home for the gorillas is currently being built at the Bristol Zoo Project

The social media video shows two people walking through the zoo and coming across the herd of gorillas.

They seemed surprised to find the animals on site and commented on their welfare and the conditions in the enclosure.

In response, a zookeeper caring for the gorillas in a Bristol Zoo Project Facebook livestream said: “We still work here every day… the needs of the animals have not changed.”

“They still eat the same food, they still need the same enrichment and the same training.

“Everything we did when we were open, we are still doing now, even though we are closed.”

Image source, Bristol Zoo Project

Image description, The zoo hosted a live stream on Thursday in which two keepers fed the gorillas and explained how they care for them

Following the move to the Bristol Zoo Project, the zoo is now almost completely empty. However, the zoo has stated that the gorillas will remain at the site until a new home for them is completed.

The Central African Forest habitat, which will provide a home for the western lowland gorillas in the future, is currently being built.

They are joined by other threatened species, including cherry-headed mangabeys, slender-snouted crocodiles, African grey parrots and West African freshwater fish.

The opening of the habitat is planned for summer 2025.