Bristol Zoo unveils first phase of new £1m gorilla house

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Media captionBristol Zoo unveils first phase of new £1m gorilla house

The first phase of a new £1m gorilla house, built to help a family of the mammals cope with its expanding brood, has been unveiled at Bristol Zoo.

The new enclosure, which is being completed in three phases, includes climbing facilities, ropes, play equipment and an indoor pool.

The zoo's seven western lowland gorillas have now been moved in. It is double the size of their previous home.

Work began last July. The other phases are due for completion by early 2014.

'Watching the builders'

"We have worked hard to help the builders, whilst maintaining the needs of the gorillas, which has been no mean feat," said Lynsey Bugg, assistant curator of mammals at the zoo.

"After a short period of trying to suss out their new housemates, the gorillas soon became accustomed to watching the builders go about their work.

"Jock, our 30-year-old, 32 stone silverback, could quite often be found watching the builders and keepers quickly learnt that Jock liked to see what was going on and oversee the work.

"Salome, mum to Kukena our almost two-year-old gorilla, also enjoyed having the builders to watch every day."

A new atrium-style glass entrance has also been fitted, along with an overhead glass panel allowing visitors to watch the gorillas walking above.

The first phase of work involved a redesign of the right side of the original building.

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