Work underway on Jersey Zoo's new gorilla house

Plans for the gorilla house. Credit: Durrell

Work has resumed on building a new home for the gorillas at Jersey Zoo.

The second phase of construction is underway and is due to be completed next summer.

It is being part-funded by the £1.2 million that was raised in the 2019 auction of the Go Wild Gorilla sculptures and a £980,000 post-Covid government grant given from a fund to aimed at boosting the economy after the pandemic.zoo 

Since then, the project has suffered some delays, which Durrell says were due to 'significant market volatility for building supplies in recent times'. 

The lack of progress has been criticised by group We Love The Zoo, who urged members to call for a resignation of the board earlier this year. 

The motion was unsuccessful and members voted to keep trustees at a meeting on 2 May.

READ MORE: Lee Durrell calls for 'stability' as Jersey Zoo members vote to keep trustees

The building of the enclosure has started again this week and phase two is due to be completed by mid 2025.

It'll be the new home for Badongo, Bahasha, Hlala, Kahili and Amari. 

Bahasha and her baby

We're told the new-build will feature eight bedrooms, two large outdoor housing spaces, training areas and weighing areas. 

Research balconies will also be installed to observe the gorillas, as well as a CCTV system for keepers to keep a close eye on the family. 

It will also have a state-of-the-art heating, humidity and cooling system. 

The internal workings of the new gorilla house. Credit: Durrell 

Ben Matthews, Jersey Zoo's Curator of Mammals, says this will make a real difference, not just to the animals but to visitors too: 

"For the guests coming to visit, there'll be the opportunity to see the gorillas feeding at height from specially-designed puzzle feeders. 

"There's going to be a brand new climbing structure inside from wooden poles, new ropes, new webbing to allow them to move around the space - it's really exciting." 

Plans for the gorilla house. Credit: Durrell

Ben tells us what it means to finally be making progress in the build, five years after islanders help to raise a substantial portion of the money to build it: 

"We take gorilla keeping really seriously, with the features we have such as the ability to hold surplus animals or introduce animals carefully through the mesh we're building. 

"These things have been a long time in the planning, but you can't rush these things and I think once it is finished, it'll be a building to be really proud of." 

 

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