Zoo keeper in tears as he and gorilla are reunited 20 years after he hand-reared him in his bedroom
Ron Smith pictured next to the gorilla pen at Bristol Zoo, home to Salome for 20 years. Ron had been deputy curator of the ape house at London Zoo when the ape was born
Retired zookeeper Ron Smith gets emotional as he visits Salome, pictured as a baby with Ron, at Bristol Zoo
Mr Smith watched as Salome, pictured at Bristol Zoo this week, played with her own one-year-old son Kukena
Ron hadn’t seen the gorilla since she moved to Bristol Zoo in 1992 and became emotional as he watched Salome in her enclosure
When a mother gorilla failed to bond with her baby daughter, zoo-keeper Ron Smith and his wife Barbara were quick to volunteer as foster parents.
The couple, who had no children of their own, looked after Salome for the first year of her life, giving her a cot in their bedroom.
Thirteen years later, in 1990, Mr Smith bade an emotional farewell to the ape when he was made redundant at the age of 60. Two years later she was transferred from London Zoo to Bristol.
Here’s the video:
Gorilla and man reunited after 20 years