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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 19:03 GMT
TV star's baby handed to gorillas
Donna Air
Donna Air gave birth to daughter Freya in September
Television presenter Donna Air and her zoo-owner boyfriend Damian Aspinall intend to place their daughter in the care of a gorilla.

The couple plan to put Freya, who was born in September, in the gorilla enclosure at Howletts Zoo near Canterbury, Kent.

They will then let her be carried off by the female of the group.

Neither parent has any qualms about letting their daughter be taken off despite five keepers being killed by animals at Howletts and its sister park, Port Lympne, since 1980.

Why would I not trust them? I know them, I grew up with them. They are my friends
Damian Aspinall
Mr Aspinall told the Evening Standard: "It is a ritual. I'll probably give her to the dominant female who will take her off and introduce her to the others."

The multi-millionaire said his two other daughters, Clary, 11, and Tansy, 14, had also been introduced to the gorillas at the zoo in the same way.

Both he and Miss Air approve of the plan and do not believe their daughter will be in any danger.

He said: "Why would I not trust them? I know them, I grew up with them. They are my friends."

Mr Aspinall took over running Howletts when his father, who encouraged close contact between animals and their keepers, died.

Since 1980 three keepers have been killed by tigers and two crushed to death by elephants at the two zoos.

But gorillas are known for their gentle treatment of babies and children.

Miss Air and Mr Aspinall have been together for more than two years and recently made a documentary together about releasing gorillas into the wild in Africa.

Zoo keeper Aspinall dies
29 Jun 00  |  UK News


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