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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 December, 2004, 15:34 GMT
Actress gives time to feed at zoo
Actress Rula Lenska feeds Kishum the Silverback Gorrilla
Rula Lenska said she was surprised at how hard the work was
Actress Rula Lenska has been mucking out gorillas at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in her latest conservation role.

She joined keepers feeding the Western Lowland Gorillas - housed at what is thought to be the world's largest family gorilla house in Hythe, Kent.

The star, whose credits include TV appearances in EastEnders and Minder, crouched down with only a mesh fence between her and a silverback gorilla.

The 57-year-old environmentalist is a loyal supporter of the park.

Her films include The Seven Dials Mystery.

Just to be so close to the gorillas was a fantastic experience
Rula Lenska

She admitted that sweeping out the pen and feeding the animals had been harder than acting.

"Just to be so close to the gorillas was a fantastic experience," she said.

"I was surprised by how hard work it all is, and the staff here do it three times a week."

She added: "My second greatest passion apart from acting, is conservation, and particularly animals who are in danger of extinction.

"Most of my involvement has been with elephants, but this has been a wonderful opportunity to spend time with gorillas."

The actress is currently filming Gypo, a film about a gypsy family who come to England from Czechoslovakia.

Endangered animals

The late John Aspinall, who died aged 74 from cancer in 2000, set up Port Lympne, and Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury, more than 40 years ago.

Both parks were established with the aim of conserving and breeding rare and endangered wild animals with the intention of returning them to safe areas in their natural habitats.

The animals in the parks are cared for in more than 450 acres of countryside in Kent.

Close contact between animals and keepers has resulted in a higher than usual success rate for breeding, including clouded leopards, lions, monkeys, rare small cats, African elephants, tigers, black rhino, and gorillas.

Doggy paddle helps big cat
23 Jan 04 |  Kent

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