The UK’s oldest gorilla is celebrating his 60th birthday

The UK's oldest gorilla is celebrating his 60th birthday at Belfast Zoo.

Delilah, who has been at the zoo for more than 30 years, rose to fame in the 1970s when she starred in the BBC's Animal Magic with Johnny Morris.

Delilah was part of the first group of gorillas at Belfast Zoo when she arrived in the city in 1992.



She has been with us in Belfast for the past 31 years and still has a lot of character despite her advanced age for a gorilla

Simon Beasley, zookeeper

Zookeeper Simon Beasley said: “Delilah is turning 60 and is the second oldest in Europe.

“She has been with us in Belfast for the past 31 years and still has a lot of character despite her advanced age for a gorilla.

“Delilah is a dream animal to work with and will engage with the keepers and enjoy talking to her during her breakfast.”

Due to her advanced age, Delilah enjoys a lot of extra support from her keepers.

Zookeeper Demi Cummings said: “Delilah is a real character within the troop and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with her here at Belfast Zoo.

“Delilah is given a special diet of root vegetables and a milky drink with added supplements to ease her aches and pains.

“She has also lost some of her teeth and therefore receives extra food that has been carefully steamed.”

Delilah lives with the rest of the gorilla troop, including the silver Gugas, Kwanza, Kamili, Namoki, Baako, Olivia and Kofi.

Ms Cummings added: “Delilah was a loving grandparent figure within the group.

“She is often seen engaging and playing with the youngest gorilla, two-year-old Kofi.

“These animals are incredibly social, and each member of the troop plays an important role in the family dynamic.”

Western lowland gorillas are a critically endangered species of ape found in the rainforests of West Africa.



Western lowland gorillas are in serious decline due to habitat destruction, poaching and disease

Alyn Cairns, zookeeper

Recent estimates suggest that fewer than 200,000 gorillas remain in the wild today.

Zoo director Alyn Cairns said: “Western lowland gorillas are in serious decline due to habitat destruction, poaching and disease.

“Belfast Zoo is part of a collaborative breeding program and we play an important role in gorilla conservation.

“It is a credit to the care provided by the keepers at Belfast Zoo that, despite being the oldest gorilla in the UK and the second oldest in Europe, Delilah is fit and healthy.

“We pride ourselves on our responsible approach to animal care to ensure continued excellence and best practices for the welfare of all zoo animals.”