Cool chimps!

It’s not just Belfast Zoo’s visitors that are enjoying the summer sun, but the animals too!

Keeping cool this summer, Phoebe the chimpanzee, at Belfast Zoo enjoys her fruit-filled ice lolly!

Keepers are making sure that the chimpanzees and gorillas stay nice and cool this summer by making fruit-filled ice lollies!  These tasty treats not only keep the apes cool, refreshed and hydrated during the hot weather, but they also act as a form of enrichment for the apes.

The chimpanzees certainly love the challenge of their ice lollies” said curator Julie Mansell, “I have worked with the chimpanzees and gorillas for many years now and they never cease to amaze me when a new challenge is put in front of them. They use a variety of tools to break the ice to get to the fruit; including their hands, feet, branches and they even use items in their enclosure as tools, such as their climbing frames.  The chimpanzees in particular love the ice lollies and their excitement can be heard across the zoo.”

This year Belfast Zoo are also fundraising for the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) ‘Save the ape’ campaign and they need your help!

Julie continues, “We are currently fundraising for the EAZA Ape Campaign.  Almost all apes are threatened in the wild and almost all are either endangered or critically endangered.  This campaign aims to make a contribution to the survival of apes and their habitats by raising awareness of the issues facing apes and to raise funds to support conservation projects.  As I am sure you can imagine all of the staff here at Belfast Zoo, where we are home to a number of apes including chimpanzees, gorillas and Moloch gibbons, are incredibly passionate about the campaign and we are all hoping to significantly contribute.”

The Belfast Zoo team will also host ‘Ape Week’ at the zoo between the 22 and 26 August. During ‘Ape Week’ activities will include:

  • keeper talks;
  • animal feeding times;
  • special enrichment activities;
  • arts and crafts;
  • birthday celebrations for Lizzy the chimpanzee; and
  • your little monkeys can swing through the air like the apes and zip line with our corporate partners, ‘The Adventure Team’.

As well as Ape week, the Belfast zoo team, including Gary the gorilla, Brian the lion and Spook the bear, will be onsite at Belfast City Hall on Saturday 20 August to raise awareness of the dangers facing the apes and to fundraise for the EAZA ape campaign.

Zoo manager, Mark Challis, explains the challenges that apes face in the wild “Undoubtedly the main reason for the rapid decline of apes is the destruction of their habitats. Apes are also victims of hunting and the live animal trade.  Over 300 gorillas are slaughtered each year for bush meat. These fascinating animals face an uncertain future and without the support of bodies such as EAZA, conservation projects and zoos around the world these animals could disappear forever.  I am very proud that Belfast Zoo is playing a role in this conservation campaign and I hope that our visitors will enjoy ‘Ape Week’ and support us in our efforts.”

You can find out more about EAZA’s ‘Save the ape’ campaign at or about Belfast Zoo’s ‘Ape Week’ at