31st August 1986

Boy falls into Jersey Zoo gorilla enclosure

When five-year-old Levan Merrit fell into the gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo, Jambo, a 25 stone gorilla, protected him from the other apes. As the Dublin Evening Herald reported on 2 September, “Hundreds of holiday-makers looked on in horror… as the seven gorillas in the pit moved towards the unconscious little boy who had fallen 20ft. But the towering Jambo – the leader of the pack – was merely protecting the boy and warding off the others.”

Gorillas scared

Merrit had initially been knocked out but, upon coming around, he screamed, which scared Jambo and the other gorillas living in the pen. Jambo led the pack back to their shelter and zoo keepers were able to drag the boy out of the enclosure. He was sent to the mainland for hospital observation.

Jambo had been born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1961, and died at Durrell Wildlife Park on 16 September 1992. He was memorialised with the erection of a bronze statue at the zoo.


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