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'Gorilla kingdom' opens in London

Gorilla kingdom
These lucky gorillas can now roam freely in a large open island, all thanks to a £5.3m project.

A new enclosure is to be officially opened at London Zoo, where keepers hope gorillas will begin to breed.

Gorilla Kingdom consists of a large open island, surrounded by a moat, an indoor "gym" and a back den.

Three western lowland gorillas will live in the enclosure: Bobby, a 23-year-old male; and two females, Zaire, 32, and Effie who is 13.

The £5.3m project means that Bobby can see the sky without bars for the first time since he was captured as a baby.

Rescued from a circus in Italy in 1983, he has not yet sired any young.

London Zoo has been criticised in the past for not having enough space for the animals it claims to conserve.

International wildlife charity Born Free would rather the zoo phased out its keeping of gorillas in captivity and invested more in wild habitat conservation.

Efforts to protect the species continue, and it is illegal now to capture gorillas in the wild, although poaching still goes on.

Baby gorillas are sold in central Africa to be kept as pets - their whole family is killed to get at the youngster.

More images after the jump.

Gorilla kingdom
Gorilla kingdom
Gorilla kingdom
Gorilla kingdom
Gorilla kingdom
Gorilla kingdom
Gorilla kingdom
Gorilla kingdom

Link & Image: Gorilla Kingdom
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