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Chairman issues statement on London Zoo gorilla escape

Ian Redmond OBE says it is time to reassess the living conditions of captive gorillas to give them more privacy and reduce stress

The Gorilla Organization has called for the widely-reported escape of silverback gorilla Kumbuka from his enclosure in London Zoo to be used as an opportunity to reassess the conditions of great apes held in captivity.

The adult male escaped from his enclosure at around 5pm on the evening of Thursday 13 October. ZSL, which owns and runs the zoo, managed to tranqulise Kumbuka and has stressed that members of the public were never in any danger.

Since this latest incident comes just six months after silverback Harambe was shot and killed by staff at Cincinnati Zoo after a child fell into the gorilla enclosure there, the Gorilla Organization is calling for more research to be carried out into the behaviour of great apes in captivity.

Chairman Ian Redmond OBE, a leading primatologist with several decades’ experience working directly with gorillas in the wild, says: “News that the silverback gorilla ‘Kumbuka’ escaped from his enclosure at London Zoo has caused much comment in the media, particularly in light of the fatal shooting of Harambe in Chicago. The Gorilla Organization is pleased that Kumbuka was successfully tranquilised and returned to his enclosure without injury, either to him or the keepers involved.

“The incident has again raised the public debate on the ethics of keeping great apes in captivity, and the plight of gorillas in general.  It is to be hoped that the enquiry into how the escape happened will extend to a behavioural study to determine why Kumbuka appears to be so stressed, as reported by many zoo visitors. Modifications to the enclosure to increase the number of visual barriers, to give the gorillas more privacy from each other and from the public, might help reduce stress.”

The Gorilla Organization focuses on conservation of both species of gorilla in their natural habitat in Africa, helping the governments and communities living alongside gorillas to find sustainable solutions for the benefit of all.