I WAS 3 YEARS OLD AND I WAS LOOKING INTO THE DARK EYES OF A LOWLAND GORILLA.
MY PARENTS HAD MOVED TO CRICKLEWOOD AS MY FATHER HAD BEEN STATIONED THERE. HE WAS AN M.P. IN THE ARMY.
I REMEMBER THE JOURNEY ON THE TUBE TRAIN AS WE MADE OUR WAY TO LONDON ZOO, THERE ARE 3 THINGS THAT I WOULD COME TO REMEMBER ABOUT OUR VISITS TO THE ZOO, THE JOURNEY, GUY THE GORILLA AND BEING URINATED ON BY A SCRUFFY LOOKING LION. BUT IT IS GUY HIMSELF THAT I REMEMBER SO VIVIDLY.
TO KEEP A LONG STORY SHORT, WHILE WE LIVED IN LONDON MY MOTHER TOLD ME HOW I WOULD DEMAND A VISIT TO SEE GUY THE GORILLA,NOT TO THE ZOO YOU NOTICE, BUT TO SEE GUY. MY MOTHER TOLD ME THAT DURING AN 18 MONTH STAY IN LONDON SHE DELIGHTED ME WITH AT LEAST 18 VISITS TO SEE HIM. HE HAD CAPTURED BOTH MY EVER SO YOUNG IMAGINATION AND MY HEART.
HE WAS ABOUT 2/3 YEARS OLDER THAN MYSELF. LIKE MANY OTHER PEOPLE I FOLLOWED HIS LIFE WITH MUCH INTEREST. IT WOULD BE SOME 20 YEARS LATER THAT I WOULD SEE HIM AGAIN, I WAS 23 YEARS OLD AT THE TIME AND I THINK IT WAS THEN THAT I REALIZED JUST HOW MUCH I DISLIKED ZOOS.
DURING MY ADOLESENCE I WOULD READ THE BOOKS OF TARZAN OF THE APES AND GUY WOULD OFTEN APPEAR IN MY THOUGHTS, IN SOME WAY I FELT AN AFFINITY WITH HIM AND WHY NOT, AM I NOT AN APE MYSELF.
I REMEMBER HOW SAD I FELT AT THE NEWS OF HIS DEMISE IN 1978 DUE TO HEART FAILURE WHILE VISITING THE DENTIST, (COINCIDENTALLY I HAD A TOOTH EXTRACTED ONLY YESTERDAY) SO, IT WAS WITH GREAT SADNESS AND ANGER THAT I READ ABOUT THE RECENT MASSACRE OF A FAMILY OF HIGHLAND GORILLAS. READ ON AND BE MOVED.
Mountain gorilla family shot dead
Friday 27 July 2007
A family of mountain gorillas, including a pregnant female, were found shot dead in a Congolese national park this week, ZSL can confirm. We have now obtained photographic evidence of the massacre
The bodies of one silverback and three female gorillas, including one who was pregnant, were discovered on Sunday (July 22nd) in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Conservation workers later found an injured baby gorilla which is now being cared for by vets in the town of Goma, just outside the park.
The gorilla family was well known to conservationists and villagers outside the park and had been named the Rugendo family, after the silverback. The group frequently roamed out of the park and into neighbouring villages to eat crops, but the villagers were used to them and would bang on pots and pans to scare them back into the park. Conservationists are confident they would not harm the gorillas as they have always shown great respect for them.
We are calling for an international independent investigation into the massacre to aid local efforts to find and punish the culprits before any more gorillas are killed.
There are estimated to be less than 700 mountain gorillas left in the world and the death of these gorillas is a severe setback to the conservation efforts ongoing in the country.
ZSL Bushmeat and Forests Conservation Programme Manager Dr Noelle Kumpel said: “The loss of a pregnant gorilla, two breeding females and a silverback is a devastating blow to the already beleaguered mountain gorilla population. If this pointless slaughter goes on we could be looking at the extinction of this wonderful and charismatic species in the near future.”
The ZSL Bushmeat and Forest Conservation Programme works in a number of countries to protect forest species from poaching and other threats including habitat loss. In DRC the society works in partnership with the ICCN (Congolese Conservation Institute) to help manage Virunga National Park and protect the wildlife in it.