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Kukena turns one

A baby gorilla has celebrated his first birthday with a party and special cake.

Little Kukena celebrated his milestone with the six other gorillas at Bristol Zoo Gardens.

The family were given birthday presents of their favourite healthy food and a slice of fruit cake as a special treat.

Kukena is still tiny – weighing around seven kilos and standing around 45cm tall – but he is getting more inquisitive and adventurous and has developed well over the past year.

Lynsey Bugg, assistant curator of mammals, said: “Kukena has come a long way over the past 12 months.

“He is becoming a proper little adventurer and loves to sneak off to explore when mum is looking somewhere else.

“Salome is a fantastic mum and is very protective of her baby boy. She keeps a close eye on him because he is still a bit too young to play with the other young gorillas as they tend to like a bit of rough and tumble.”

She added: “Kukena still takes his mother’s milk but has started eating solids too.

“He loves soft, sweet fruits such as blueberries, grapes, banana and avocado, so we have given him plenty of these to celebrate his birthday today.”

Although he is developing well, keepers still keep a close eye on Kukena’s progress, monitoring his growth, hair and body condition, ensuring his eyes are bright and checking his baby teeth.

His name comes from the language of the Lunda tribe from northwest Zambia, and actually means “to love”.

The tribe originates from the Congo, where western lowland gorillas are still to be found in the wild.

As well as Kukena and Salome, Bristol Zoo’s Gorilla Island is also home to silverback Jock; Namoki, seven; Komale, five; Kera; eight; and Romina, the zoo’s other adult female gorilla.

Bristol Zoo is currently carrying out a £1 million project to transform and enlarge the house for its gorillas.

Work includes refurbishing and extending the existing facility to provide more than double the amount of space for the zoo’s growing gorilla family.

The new enclosure, which is due to open next summer, will include climbing facilities, ropes and play equipment and a shallow indoor pool.

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