Europe's oldest Silverback Gorilla celebrates 50th birthday
17th August 2011
Nico the western lowland gorilla celebrated his 50th birthday at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park this month. It's believed the landmark birthday means Nico is now the oldest silverback gorilla in Europe and the second oldest male gorilla in the world. Nico's centrally-heated island already features his classical-style home complete with satellite television and Sky Plus.
The special occasion posed something of a problem for his keepers who were tasked to come up with the perfect gift.
"It's difficult to think of new present ideas for him as he's pretty much got everything already," said keeper Mark Tye.
"Although he is now a very old man, Nico's is still extremely active and in amazingly good condition considering his age.
"We came up with a selection of presents for him; some of which were more warmly received than others.
"Someone came up with the idea of a bouquet of flowers and although I'm sure he appreciated the sentiment he couldn't really disguise his lack of enthusiasm for them!"
Fortunately the 200kgs silverback was inundated with other gifts to mark his special day including a banana-shaped cake which was much more appreciated.
Keepers are unsure of Nico's exact age as he arrived at Longleat soon after the safari park opened in 1966 from a zoo in Switzerland and the likelihood is that he is actually somewhat more than 50 years old.
The oldest male gorilla in the world lives in the USA and was born in 1961 while the oldest female, who also lives in America was born in 1956.
At over half an acre in size Nico's island home also includes plenty of space for natural foraging as well as outdoor facilities for play and relaxation.
Built in 1804 by leading landscape gardener Humphry Repton, the island was part of major alterations made at Longleat by the second Lord Bath.