Gloucestershire

Pictures of Uley's gorilla John Daniel published

Uley gorilla Image copyright Other
Image caption The gorilla would play with the village children and sometimes attended school with them

The true tale of a gorilla who was raised like a child in an English village has been rediscovered.

The ape, called John Daniel, was adopted by Alyce Cunningham, from Uley, Gloucestershire, in 1918 after her brother bought it for £300 in London.

Village archivist Margaret Groom has published a collection of pictures of John Daniel in a book about Uley.

The animal was sold to an American when it became too big for Ms Cunningham to look after. It died in 1922.

'Can't be possible'

Mrs Groom found the collection of photos in the village archives and said it was "quite unique to have a gorilla grow up here".

She said: "People still talk about it and a lot of people don't believe it. They say 'oh no that can't be possible'."

John Daniel was captured as a baby in Gabon and brought to the UK, where Ms Cunnigham's brother Rupert Penny saw it for sale in a department store.

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Image caption John Daniel was adopted by Alyse Cunningham and lived with her at her country house in Uley

She adopted the ape and nicknamed him Sultan.

Mrs Groom said John Daniel was raised like a normal child, had its own bedroom and could use the light switch and toilet.

She said the villagers were very fond of the ape, which would play with children, eat roses from garden and drink cups of tea.

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Image caption Chidlren in Uley had fun wheeling John Daniel around the village in a wheelbarrow

Once it grew to adult size Ms Cunningham could no longer look after it so, in 1921, she sold it to an American for one thousand guineas.

She thought it would be sent to a home in Florida, but instead the ape ended up in Barnum and Baileys Circus.

There its health deteriorated, with reports reaching Ms Cunningham that the animal was pining for her.

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She set sail for New York but the gorilla, by now aged four-and-a-half, died from pneumonia before she arrived.

The story of John Daniel is also set to be part of an exhibition later this year in Uley.

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Image caption His body was preserved after his death and he went on display in a New York museum in 1922

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