Happy 50th Birthday to UKs Oldest Gorilla
The Aspinall Foundation were wishing Mouila, a female Western lowland gorilla, a very happy birthday as she turned 50 this month at the Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent. This landmark date makes Mouila the oldest Western lowland gorilla in the UK and one of the oldest of her kind worldwide.
Keepers at the park created some special birthday presents for Mouila by wrapping boxes in gorilla-friendly paper and filling them special food treats. All the other gorillas in Mouila’s group all got really involved with the presents (doesn’t everyone on a special day!)
Promotions Officer, Charlotte Jones, said –
The gorillas were incredibly excited when we arrived at the enclosure with the piles of boxes and were making a lovely deep ‘growling’ sound that they do when they are happy. As soon as the doors were open the gorillas ran up to the boxes and some of the younger gorillas grabbed two or three at a time! Despite being the dominant female and having plenty of opportunities to get a box for herself, Mouila took a rather relaxed approach to her birthday and let the other six gorillas in her group enjoy the party while she relaxed with a handful of beans and herbs.
Howletts and Port Lympne park has the largest group of Western lowland gorillas in human care, with Mouila herself having reared 8 offspring at the wildlife sanctuary. Now a grandmother, one of her sons has been taken to Twycross Zoo as a breeding male, whilst two of her daughters are now in breeding programmes overseas. Quite a famous, well travelled family to be fair!
Head gorilla keeper, Lorna Wanless, said –
Mouila was born in 1960 and in ‘human years’ would be around 100 years old making this birthday a real milestone for her. I have worked with Mouilla for 11 years: She is the head female in the group and is certainly a strong character. She is a pleasure to work with and has had a lot of babies which is a big help towards conserving this critically endangered species.