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Last Updated: Monday, 18 July, 2005, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Animals to get taste of freedom
A Diana monkey at London Zoo eating a fruit ice lolly

London Zoo is returning to the wild as cages and bars are torn down and replaced with natural enclosures.

Within two years gorillas will live in a man-made forest clearing as part of a 5.3m African rainforest area to bring visitors closer to the animals.

Next plans will be drawn up to free tigers and big cats from their pens and create a more natural habitat for them.

Chris West, director of the Regent's Park Zoo, said they wanted people to get "up close and personal".

"We are at the start of a vision to modify the zoo. We are getting away from bars and cages.

Heated rocks

"It may sound a bit cheesy, but we want people to go away inspired and having had some real connection with the natural world," he said.

As part of the plans for a gorilla island, visitors will be able to walk along raised paths and watch the apes from a forestry glade, as if they were based in a Congo field house.

Heated rocks, designed to attract gorillas to the area, will give humans the chance to take a closer look at the animals.

Visitors to the zoo increased by 40,000 after the opening of a monkey walkway in March which gives access to 14 squirrel monkeys.

An African birds safari, complete with lilac breasted rollers and hornbills, opened on Monday.


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See the benefits of the new 'open cages'



SEE ALSO:
Red pandas break cover
15 Oct 03 |  Bristol/Somerset
Zoo reveals plan for 'mini- Eden'
23 Jun 05 |  West Midlands


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