Longleat’s oldest resident, Nico the gorilla, received a bouquet of daffodils from keepers to signal spring is finally on its way.
As well as being the oldest gorilla in Europe, Nico, who is believed to be at least 55, is also thought to be the second oldest male gorilla in the world.
Despite his apparently grumpy expression, keepers at the Wiltshire safari park say the 180kgs lowland silverback is actually extremely gentle and still very active – in spite of his advancing years.
“Although he is now a very old man, Nico is still extremely active and in amazingly good condition considering his age,” said keeper Mark Tye.
“He was definitely intrigued by the bunch of daffodils, although he did initially throw them away, perhaps because he was hoping they were going to be bananas.
“Despite his enormous size and strength, Nico can also be extraordinarily dexterous, and to see the way he held those delicate flowers in his gigantic hands was quite special,” he added.
Keepers are unsure of Nico’s exact age. He arrived at Longleat in the 1980s from Switzerland and the likelihood is that he is actually even older.
The gorilla, who lives on an island in the middle of a lake at Longleat, has a purpose built, centrally-heated house, complete with classical pillars and satellite television.
At over half an acre in size, Nico’s island home also includes plenty of space for natural foraging as well as outdoor facilities for play and relaxation.
There are also a series of landscaped lookout stations, giant tree trunk climbing frames, and a set of heavy-duty tyre and net swings.
Built in 1804 by leading landscape gardener Humphry Repton, the island was part of major alterations made at Longleat by the second Lord Bath.