Saturday, 20 October 2012

Jambo –The Gorilla

 
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Jambo was a celebrated gorilla housed at Jersey Zoo. He is well known for rescuing a young boy named Levan Merritt who fell into the gorilla enclosure in 1986.

To commemorate the Jambo’s caring behavior that day came across as such a powerful image and story for all time, Jersey issued four postage stamps and one souvenir sheet feature several image of Jambo, the gorilla on September 15, 2012.
Jersey Zoo has erected a bronze statue of Jambo inside the zoo grounds as a tribute to the gorilla which helped change public perception about the species.


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Jambo  was born on April 17, 1961, in Zoo Basel, Basel, Switzerland, to mother Achilla and father Stephi. Stephi was acquired from the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo.

Stephi was captured in 1950 by Columbus resident and gorilla hunter Bill Said, with two other baby gorillas, in French Equatorial Africa.




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Jambo arrived at Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, now Durell Wildlife Conservation Trust in April 27, 1972. As the first male gorilla to be born in captivity, his contribution to the saving of his species was immense.

During his 20 years reign at Durell Wildlife Conservation Trust, he sired 14 live offspring from three different females; his outstanding legacy currently exceeds 100 individuals.



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Jambo is perhaps best remembered for gentleness he displayed towards five year old Levan Merritt fell into gorilla enclosure in August 31,  1986.

Jambo’s imposing presence kept his inquisitive family at a respectful distance and his deliberate positioning was later interpreted as ‘protecting the little boy’; enabling zoo staff and ambulance personnel to rescue the child midst rapturous applause from all who had witnessed the drama. The publicity on major news channels and newspapers helped ease public fears about the potentially violent nature of gorillas.



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Jambo was found dead by his keeper Richard Johnstone-Scott in the gorilla enclosure on September 16, 1992.

The cause of death was a spontaneous rupture of the major artery, resulting in a massive hemorrhage in his chest.



A biography of Jambo, written and illustrated by his keeper, was published following his death. A documentary has also been released primarily based on the home video footage of the Levan Merritt incident.

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