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AHOTW: Bristol Museum's Alfred the gorilla

Alfred the gorilla at Bristol Zoo
Alfred the lowland gorilla arrived in Bristol from Rotterdam as a toddler

From his arrival at Bristol Zoo Gardens in 1930, Alfred the Gorilla was destined for stardom.

He became an icon for the city through times of peace and war, as well as an international animal star.

Alfred was renowned for his dislike of bearded men, double-decker buses and aeroplanes as well as his antics in his enclosure.

During the war years of the 1940s, thousands of postcards of Alfred were posted to the USA by servicemen billeted in the city, spreading his fame across the Atlantic.

At his death in 1948, he was the oldest gorilla in captivity anywhere in the world.

He is now one of the star attractions on display at Bristol's City Museum and Art Gallery.

His story demonstrates the changing attitudes people have had towards animals and the natural world.

Deborah Freeman contacted the BBC A History of the World website with her memories of Alfred.

Every time I see sad Alfred's face, I remember our home ringing with laughter - and the April sunshine
Deborah Freeman

"One of my earliest childhood memories, I was three years and five months," she said.

"Sitting at the top of the stairs of our home with my sister in Bristol.

"My father came through the front door - bright April sunshine - and called through to my mother in the kitchen

"'I'm not coming home for lunch, I'm going to the zoo - Alfred's died'

"[I remember] my mother's laughter from the kitchen [and] my sister and I chuckling.

"Why did we find it funny? Not sure [but] my father was Joseph Yoffey, professor of anatomy at Bristol.

"The anatomy department had first claim on the body, I think, and hoped to dissect him.

"[I'm] not sure what happened next, except they discovered he [Alfred] had TB.

"Every time I see sad Alfred's face, I remember our home ringing with laughter - and the April sunshine."



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