From City jungle to zoo keeper


The city of London is often described as a jungle, but for Daniel Simmonds it clearly was not wild enough.

Mr Simmonds gave up his job as an oil trader — and the six -figure salary that went with it — to become a keeper at London Zoo.

Now he is the focus of The Zoo, a three-part ITV1 fly-on-the-cage documentary about life looking after the animals.

Mr Simmonds started his zoo career working with insects, before being promoted to the monkey house. More promotions followed and he is currently senior gorilla keeper and second in command in the zoo’s mammal team.

He works closely — although not too closely, since direct contact with the animals is rather dangerous — with the site’s resident lowland gorillas, the biggest primates at the Regent’s Park site.

The ITV series shows his daily routine, which includes a four-hour clean-up of “Gorilla Kingdom”, where his charges are kept.

Mr Simmonds, who has run a “Tanach tour of the zoo” for members of North-Western Reform Synagogue, fell in love with the idea of working with animals after watching David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries.
He says: “I love my job and I love showing off what I do.”

In the final episode of The Zoo, he is seen monitoring the fledgling romance between new arrival Kumbuka, a seven-foot, 29-stone silverback gorilla, and a female called Mujuku.

“It’s a massive privilege to sit and watch a bond like this occurring,” he says, adding, in the manner of every proud Jewish patriarch: “Hopefully we should have babies”.

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