- Title: FRANCE: Childless French couple adopt gorilla
- Date: 1st July 2011
- Summary: CHILDREN WATCHING
- Embargoed: 16th July 2011 13:00
- Location: France, France
- Country: France
- Topics: Quirky,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA1YKU9S8KU92CJRX4DUGI4K11S
- Story Text: A childless French couple, zoo managers Pierre and Elianne Thivillon, have adopted a 13-year-old female gorilla named Digit whom they take home every night after she has spent the day entertaining young visitors at the zoo enclosure.
The Thivillons, who stay just next door to Digit's cage, took in the 120 kilogram gorilla when her biological mother refused to breast-feed her. The couple already had some experience of raising a gorilla, having spent time with living Digit's brother, Ginko.
They had to eventually send Ginko back to the zoo after he started becoming a little too aggressive. But life with Digit is more pleasant, her adoptive father, 68-year-old Pierre said.
"It's going very well, because we have a 13-year old relationship with Digit. So obviously we have created a very strong bond with each other," Pierre told Reuters television.
"Family life was a little more difficult to manage with Ginko because he only got to know us at the age of five," he added.
Taking care of a gorilla takes a toll on your social life, just as raising a child does, the couple said. No more nights at the cinema or dinners at restaurants - Digit who likes sleeping in the couple's bed, also likes receiving attention from her adoptive parents who said they don't mind the sacrifice either.
Giving up Ginko was tough, but having Digit in their lives is a pleasure, they said.
"Life was very difficult a few days after Ginko left. We got used to seeing him everyday. He slept near us, we had breakfast together, we had a good time together and it was a real pleasure. It was very hard to see him go," Pierre said.
Zoo vet Jean-Christophe Gerard was amused at seeing the bond between the gorilla and the Thivillons. He said he was surprised at Digit's gentle behaviour.
"It's an animal. It can have reactions, it can react violently to things it doesn't like," Gerard said. "It's a female that was never aggressive with Pierre or Elianne, so there has never been any behaviour or other concerns. They respect her, they have established a relationship with her, which is stable for the moment."
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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