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David Attenborough wants us to use peepholes to look at gorillas in zoos

Attenborough conceded that the plan was “very difficult”.
Oct 18th 2016, 9:56 AM 13,442 20

VETERAN BRITISH NATURALIST David Attenborough has called for gorillas in zoos to be kept behind walls with peepholes rather than glass panels, to respect their privacy.

The 90-year-old television presenter spoke out after a gorilla briefly escaped last Thursday from its enclosure in London Zoo. Attenborough said the incident was “hardly surprising” when animals are subjected to intrusion.

He also said people should behave in a more respectful manner in zoos rather than clowning around trying to goad animals into a reaction.

But Attenborough, who has opened the eyes of millions of viewers to the wonders of the natural world during more than half a century in television, also said zoos play a vital role in preserving endangered species.

“They are wonderful animals, gorillas. They are animals which guard their privacy,” he told ITV television.

“In the forests of west Africa, they don’t live out in the open. They aren’t stared at by people.

Maybe the solution is that people should not be allowed to be behind big sheets of glass but look behind peepholes so that the gorillas don’t realise (they are being watched) — but that’s very difficult to do in a zoo where there are tens of thousands of people wanting to see these animals.

Baby gorilla plays with keeper at Bristol Zoo Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Attenborough called for zoo-goers to show more consideration to the animals.

“Sometimes visitors to zoos are not respectful and they start shrieking or waving their arms in order to get the poor gorilla to do something.

“They are not just animals. They are related to us. They value their privacy. Just imagine what it’s like to be there.”

Attenborough said it would be nice to think creatures such as mountain gorillas were safe in the wild but zoos did preserve species under threat of extinction.

“It’s a pity they’re always in danger,” he said.

“If we could get rid of that then perhaps there would be no need for zoos.

“It is important for people to be able to see what these wonderful creatures are like and to understand the responsibility that the human race has towards gorillas.”

- © AFP, 2016

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