Bristol

Gorilla Salome celebrates 40th birthday at Bristol Zoo

Salome, Western lowland gorilla Image copyright Bristol Zoo
Image caption Salome, a Western lowland gorilla, was conceived at Bristol Zoo Gardens in 1975 and turned 40 on Saturday

A gorilla has celebrated her 40th birthday with gifts, flowers and a vegetable cake made by her keepers.

Salome, a Western lowland gorilla, was conceived at Bristol Zoo Gardens in 1975 and turned 40 on Saturday.

To mark the occasion she was given cake, treats and bunches of roses - which gorillas can eat.

The five other gorillas at the zoo - including Salome's four-year-old son Kukena - also joined in the celebrations.

Image copyright Bristol Zoo
Image caption Salome (right) can be easily identified by her wrinkly nose and the gingery hair on the top of her head
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The 40-year-old Western lowland gorilla has mothered three offspring, including Kukena (above)

Lynsey Bugg, the zoo's curator of mammals, said she was one of the most intelligent of her troop.

"She really is very clever and calculated and loves working out different puzzles - particularly if it means she gets a food reward at the end of it," she said.

"She will ensure that anyone new understands they need to work hard to get her respect. Once you gain it, she is so fantastic to work with."

Salome has mothered three offspring, including Kukena, and has a respectful relationship with Kukena's father, the troop's silverback Jock.

Shorter in height than the other adult gorillas at the zoo, she can also be easily spotted by her wrinkly nose and the gingery hair on the top of her head.

Image copyright Bristol Zoo
Image caption Salome is described by her keepers as one of the most intelligent of the troop

John Partridge, senior curator, said she was a "very special member of the troop" helping "younger females to develop".

"Gorillas in the wild often only live into their late 30s to early 40s. In human care, it's not uncommon for gorillas to reach the grand age of 50, or hopefully even older," he said.

"It's hugely positive to see Salome still enjoying her life."

The wild population of Western lowland gorillas is estimated between 90,000 and 110,000.

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