Longleat's 'Nico' the silverback gorilla has died

The Western lowland gorilla died in his sleep. Credit: Longleat

Nico, one of the oldest silverback gorillas in the world, has died.

The Western lowland gorilla lived at Longleat in Wiltshire, the park celebrated his 56th birthday last year.

He's spent most of his life at Longleat after arriving from Switzerland in the 1980s. Staff say he died in his sleep on Sunday 7th January.

The 400lb ape was famed for being a little grumpy - he preferred his own company to anyone else's - but the keepers at Longleat loved him all the same.

Nico's main keeper has been working with him virtually on a daily basis since 1989 and is said to be particularly saddened by the news.

Longleat said: "Everyone here has been truly saddened by the death of Nico. His main keeper has been working with Nico virtually on a daily basis since 1989 and has forged an extraordinarily close bond with him. It goes without saying that he is particularly devastated by the loss along with the rest of his keeping team who have cared for Nico over the years.

"We know that so many of you cared for Nico and have visited him over the years, so please join us in celebrating the life of such a magnificent creature."