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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 20:12 GMT 21:12 UK
Park warned over housing gorillas
Western Lowland gorilla
Three generations of the same family of gorillas live in the park
A London theme park was warned it could lose its licence to house gorillas if their enclosures did not improve, a zoo inspection report has revealed.

A 2005 inspection urged Chessington World of Adventures in south-west London to take "immediate action".

In a statement park officials "strongly refuted" the findings saying its care was nothing "less than exemplary".

The report by Kingston Council's zoo inspectors was made public under the Freedom of Information Act.

Three males and seven female Western Lowland gorillas reside in the theme park and they live in a cage with a hay floor and rope swings.

'Most concerned'

According to the report, during a visit in October 2005 the inspectors urged the park to build new housing for the primates by 2009, otherwise their licence could be revoked.

The inspectors were described as being "greatly disappointed" and "most concerned" that plans for a 22-acre enclosure for animals, which they saw in 2003, had still not been built, the report said.

During the next inspection in 2006 the inspectors took note of the "high standard of animal health and care" but again made a mention of the absence of a new enclosure for gorillas.

"The team consider it essential for the well-being of the animals that this collection be rehoused," the 2006 report said.

In their statement the park said its care of the gorilla collection should not be questioned as a European Stud Book Keeper who had recently visited the zoo noted that the primates were "thriving" and agreed to a new male gorilla.

"Chessington World of Adventures and Zoo is extremely proud of its animal collection and the Park is involved in many national and international breeding programmes to secure the long-term future of rare and endangered species," the statement said.

The primates at Chessington's Gorilla Group are three generations of the same family, which started out with Kumba and his mate Kaja.

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