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Bobby the gorilla dies in London Zoo

PUBLISHED: 16:28 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:42 07 September 2010

Gorilla Halloween at London Zoo.

Gorilla Halloween at London Zoo. "Bobby" The Silverback Gorilla

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

LONDON Zoo's star attraction, the much-loved male gorilla Bobby, has died. Keepers at the zoo in Regent s Park found the 25-year-old silverback dead in his nest last Friday during the early morning check. The zoo said everyone is devastated by the loss of

LONDON Zoo's star attraction, the much-loved male gorilla Bobby, has died.

Keepers at the zoo in Regent's Park found the 25-year-old silverback dead in his nest last Friday during the early morning check.

The zoo said everyone is devastated by the loss of their "gentle giant" Bongo Junior, affectionately known as Bobby.

Messages have been flooding in to the zoo's online book of condolences for the mighty beast, who has lived in Gorilla Kingdom with his three female companions since it opened last year.

Tracey Lee, team leader of mammals south which looks after the gorillas, said: "We are overwhelmed at the response we have received from visitors and friends of Bobby.

"We are deeply saddened by what happened and, as you can imagine, this is a very emotional time for the keepers and Bobby's three special ladies. His untimely death has left us all shocked and enormously upset.

"Bobby affectionately known as Bob Bob was our delightful big boy at the zoo and was loved by all especially his extended family, a dedicated team of keepers.

"The last year of Bobby's life was spent happily in his kingdom - he had his own troop of ladies to look after and his very special love Mjukuu.

"He would laze around on the island in the sunshine, arms behind his head surrounded by his adoring girls Zaire, Effie and Mjukuu he was proud and very confident. His very presence brightened every day.

"We will remember him affectionately as our gentle giant. His hoots to his keepers and funny antics will always bring a tear to our eyes and a smile to our faces. Bobby will leave a huge gap in the Gorilla Kingdom and he will be missed."

Bobby arrived at London Zoo from Bristol Zoo in 2003 and is a Western Lowland gorilla, whose species is critically endangered by poaching, the destruction of their habitat and the spread of the Ebola virus in their West African homelands.

Gorilla Kingdom is a £5.3million purpose-built home for the gorillas and Bobby originally moved in with Effie and Zaire.

It was hoped the new home would serve as a love nest for the gorillas and is the zoo's first attempt to breed gorillas in 19 years.

The zoo also pledged to contribute £500,000 to the conservation of gorillas in the wild through its conservation programme.

Things never really sparked between Bobby, who loved leeks and bananas, and Zaire but when Mjukuu arrived Bobby fell in love, swooning over his new brown-eyed girl.

Sadly Bobby died aged just 25, below the life expectancy of 30 to 50 years.

A remembrance service was held yesterday and visitors and staff laid wreaths in the courtyard.

Vets are now carrying out a post-mortem to find out the reason why Bobby died. To see the book of condolences visit www.zsl.org


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