“There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than any other animal I know.”
An estimated 500 million people worldwide heard Sir David Attenborough whisper those words as he lay next to a 100kg female gorilla in Rwanda nearly 30 years ago.
His encounter with the gorillas in the BBC natural history series Life on Earth is one of television’s most memorable.
At Loro Parque in Tenerife, you can’t get quite as close to the gorillas as David Attenborough did all those years ago.
But, as the pictures above and below show, you do get a pretty good view of the park’s gorilla enclosure, which covers 3,500 square metres and houses six gorillas in conditions very like their native habitat.
The six gorillas are part of an experimental group on loan from various European zoos and form part of a breeding programme for endangered species.
Situated in Puerto de la Cruz in the north of the island, Loro Parque is rightly recognised as one of the finest animal parks anywhere in the world.
The gorillas are fed only the best fruit and vegetables and their living quarters have constant ventilation and under-floor heating to provide perfect conditions for them.
Incidentally, the BBC4 will be broadcasting on Easter Sunday a programme entitled “Gorillas Revisited with David Attenborough”, in which he tells the story of how he and his film crew managed to obtain such excellent pictures of the Rwanda gorillas.