Building work underway for new gorilla house

Publish date: 26 Jun 2024

Work is underway for a new state-of-the-art gorilla house at Jersey Zoo. The enclosure will be the new home for Badongo, Bahasha, Hlala Kahilli and youngest of the group, Amari. The second phase of the construction started this week and is due to be completed in the summer of 2025.

Featuring a state-of-the-art heating, humidity and cooling system, two large indoor housing spaces, eight different bedroom spaces, training areas and weighing areas, this new house will be a significant upgrade for Jersey Zoo’s troop. It will also host research balconies for observing the gorillas’ behaviour as well as a full CCTV system to allow keepers to monitor them.

In 2019, Jersey Zoo hosted their public art trail ‘Go Wild Gorillas’ with the aim of raising the much-needed funds to replace the current gorilla house that opened in 1981. At the end of the trail, the giant sculptures went to auction, raising a phenomenal £1,146,500 for this new gorilla house. The rest of the funds were raised through donations from both individuals and Trusts. The Government of Jersey’s Fiscal Stimulus Fund covered the costs of the preparatory works, which included relocating the Visayan warty pig enclosure, to enable this ambitious build.

Speaking about the new enclosure, Curator of Mammals at Jersey Zoo, Ben Matthews, commented:

“Gorillas are truly synonymous with Jersey Zoo. The new gorilla house represents Durrell’s unique, continued commitment to the species, not just as the Trust, but also as part of the wider zoo community, working to conserve this endangered species in accordance with the EEP EAZA population management programme. We have learned so much about the management of gorillas in zoos, and the new building will allow us to put so much of that into practice. While the building is full of features that reflect this learning, for me, the recurring theme for the house is flexibility.
For the gorillas, this means the flexibility to choose how and when they interact with their environment, keepers and other troop members. By affording them that choice, we can do so much to optimise their welfare here at the zoo for many years to come.
For the team, this means flexibility when managing our troop. The building offers scope to acclimate new arrivals, both births and new gorillas, a commitment to hold animals in high-specification off-show housing when necessary, and options to train them for all manner of husbandry procedures behind the scenes. And finally, the house will provide a more flexible viewing experience for our guests, even in inclement weather, with opportunities to see the gorillas displaying natural behaviours, foraging in the deep bark chip floor, interacting with high-level feeders or building nests in the complex climbing structures.”

Jersey Zoo will be sharing updates and progress pictures of the building work with their members and on social media over the coming months.





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