Following the BBC new story “scare” scandal of London Zoo’s too easily leapable perimeter fence they now bring to light a year old report that points out Chessington Zoo just hasn’t got round to building the new 22 acre enclosure promised to their gorillas back in 2003. London Zoo, in smug contrast, had the right royal opening of their flagship “Gorilla Kingdom” at the end of March.
So, whilst Londoners Zaire, Bobby and Effie amble round their new, zoologically cutting edge £5.3m kingdom replete with Colobus monkeys, African birds, a moat and an indoor climbing frame it seems that Kumba, Kaja and their Chessingtonian brood wait mournfully for their idyllic new home in a hay lined cage draped with rope swings.
Of course, Chessington have retaliated to the claims pointing out that their gorilla group comprises three generations of the same family, all of which are apparently thriving in "total gorilla comfort", and they’ve recently been approved for a new addition to the group, so they must be doing something right.
It’s space though, isn’t it? Us Londonists, cooped up in boxy flats and stuck on overcrowded tube trains, long for space to swing a cat, let alone an enormous primate, so this sort of story is guaranteed to poke our goats. Of course, zoos will always be controversial and the desire to improve their inhabitants’ captive environments is right and proper but quality of life rests on more than pure acreage. If Chessington’s gorillas are half as adored and well looked after by their keepers as their cousins in Regents Park then one hopes their chances of pining away before 2009, when the much anticipated new enclosure must materialise, are pretty slim.
Meanwhile, “monkey nuts reporting” – is she for real?
Image courtesy of azz's Flickrstream