Apples studded with nails found in Prague zoo gorilla enclosure

11-07-2007

The gorillas at Prague Zoo were the focus of media attention around the world a couple of years ago, when they were constantly monitored on the internet, in a parody of reality TV shows like Big Brother. Today Prague Zoo's gorillas remain very popular with the Czech public. However, it seems not everyone likes them - on Tuesday apples studded with nails were found in their enclosure, and officials say the apes could have suffered serious injury.

On Tuesday morning zoo keeper Marek Zdansky was conducting a routine check of the run at the gorilla compound at Prague Zoo when he made an alarming discovery: five large red apples studded with steel nails. Luckily, the zoo's six gorillas - including Richard, "winner" of the Big Brother parody show - were inside at the time, because it was raining.

"I would put whoever left those apples here in a cage with Richard and let them sort it out between themselves," said Zdansky.

Photo: www.odhaleni.czPhoto: www.odhaleni.cz Tuesday's incident was not the first of its kind. A year and a half ago similarly doctored apples were found in the zoo's antelopes enclosure. This time they could perhaps have posed a greater danger to Richard and co. - apples are among the great ape's favourite foods.

"If they swallowed nails their lives would be definitely be in danger - in the worst possible scenario the nails could have perforated their stomachs or intestines," said Pavel Brandl, who is in charge of Prague Zoo's gorilla compound.

The shocking, and as yet unexplained, attempt to harm them uncovered on Tuesday fortunately came to nothing. But what can officials do to prevent repeat "attacks"?

Tatu, photo: www.odhaleni.czTatu, photo: www.odhaleni.cz "Prague Zoo is modern and doesn't have bars. Therefore we appeal to visitors to report any suspicious behaviour," said Vit Kahle, the zoo's spokesman.

Odhaleni (The Revealed), the award-winning Big Brother parody, still exists as an internet project, with four cameras trained on different parts of the gorilla enclosure at all times. Now, in order to keep Richard, Kamba, Kijivu, Shinde, Moja and baby Tatu safe, officials at Prague Zoo say they are going to install another camera - one which keeps a constant eye on the human beings who get close to the great apes' enclosure.

www.odhaleni.cz

11-07-2007