Royal Marines employ gorilla tactics at Paignton Zoo
PAIGNTON Zoo keepers in need of some extra muscle have turned to the Royal Marines.
Staff at Paignton Zoo planned to build a new climbing frame for their Western lowland gorillas. They asked the Royal Marines for help, and a troop of Assault Engineers from the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone answered their call.
Members of Assault Engineer Troop 42 Commando RM and the A3’s Course from Commando Training Centre RM Lympstone built the new climbing frame using Douglas fir timber poles and steel bolts. The timber was sunk into the ground using plastic piping already in place, then the frame was constructed from the ground up.
Senior Head Keeper of Mammals Matthew Webb said: “The old frame was built around 10 years ago and was starting to fall apart. The gorillas use it every day to get a better view of their surroundings. These primates can weigh over 200 kilos each and are extremely strong - the frame needs to be able to withstand all that a gorilla can throw at it!
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“The Marines coming in to take on this project is an immense help to the Zoo, a big job like this requires a lot of man-power, with all the other animals and enclosures to look after, it would take Zoo staff five times as long to do the job!”
CSGT Kevin Bateman, Chief Instructor at the Assault Engineer School, Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, said: “Working with Paignton Zoo was a great opportunity for the Assault Engineers 3’s course to get out on site and use the skills that they have been taught. It showed the course the wide variety of projects that they could get involved in.
“This job showed the course the preparation and planning that is required, in not only detailing the job but also working and liaising with civilian organisations. It also allowed the public to see the Royal Marines working outside the normal environment they might associate us with, highlighting how we get involved in helping out the local community.”
Paignton Zoo fundraiser Jenny Paton, who coordinated the day, added: “As a charity, we are always looking for ways to make the money stretch that little bit further. It is really wonderful to have the Royal Marines come in and help us – this was a big task.”
The bachelor group of Western lowland gorillas is made up of 30 year old Pertinax, Kiondo and Kivu who are 10; and N’Dowe and Matadi who are both 9. Kumbuka, who is 15, is due to move to London Zoo to start a new breeding group.