Gorillas at Howletts enjoy edible garden
Tamidol and Sanki get
stuck in to the edible garden at Howletts. Pictures: Dave Rolfe
What happens when you give a gorilla a fantastic, lush garden of
sunflowers and lavender? They eat it!
Howletts' gardening team at Canterbury bedecked out the home of
their western lowland gorillas with a delicious edible garden.
Normally used to tending to the gardens at the 90-acre wild
animal park, they painstakingly transformed the gorillas' large
They added more than 15 varieties of plants, including
sunflowers, hazel, apple, lavender, runner bean plants, bamboo,
willow and plum.
David Sutton, Head Gardener at Howletts said: "The idea for the
gorilla garden came to us when we had to cut back a large banana
plant for the winter as it had grown unmanageably tall.
"The idea was then expanded to use the sunflowers that we have
grown for their seed heads and some of the herbs that we grow to
form a regular part of the animals diets.
"I decided that if we were going to do it we may as well
do it properly and go to town with providing a great experience for
the gorillas and an opportunity for the team to do something a
little out of the ordinary.’"
The 12-strong group of gorillas, headed by impressive
silverback, Djanghou, were given access to the newly-decorated
garden while keepers and gardeners held their breath.
Lorna Wanless, head of gorilla section, said: "All of the group
were happy to see so much food scattered around – they immediately
got busy investigating, foraging and eating.
Djanghou doesn't seem too
impressed by his floral foliage treat! Picture: Dave Rolfe
"Unfortunately the sunflowers and lavender were passed over for
the banana leaves and we removed them two days later.
"The flowers may not have been popular with the gorillas but
they acted as an effective air freshener – the enclosure smelled
Howletts is home to the largest collection of western lowland
gorillas in the world and along with the sister park Port Lympne,
near Ashford are credited as the most successful breeders of the
species - now critically endangered in the wild.
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