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The video of Jambo looking over Levan Merritt at the Jersey Zoo was voted number one by the Channel Island public as the “Shot that shook the Island.” More here

.....Boy fell 12 ft fall onto concrete

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Relief keeper Andy Wood and Gary Clarke of the bird staff were told of the situation. They had several options open to them. Shooting the gorillas would be a last resort. There were so many animals in the enclosure it could not be done quickly. An alternative to use blowpipes and darts would take ages to set up. It would take at least 15 minutes to put each one asleep. Without knowing the extent of Levan’s injuries this time delay could be very dangerous.

A Nurse at the scene saw Levan was too quiet and said to everyone they had to try and wake Levan by calling his name. This was to try to prevent him slipping into a coma. After 10 minutes he awoke up. Levan started to scream possibly due to his injuries and at the same time looking at Jambo.

The gorillas were shocked by the crying. Deciding not to hang around to discover what this human was going to do they all moved off towards the safety of their covered quarters. Jambo also decided it was time to leave and lead the way.

The keepers ushered the animals inside. But as they did so a young gorilla called Hobbit dashed out.

Things now seemed worse. The excited eight year old, seventeen stone male gorilla was kept away from Jambo as they would fight to take control of group.

Levan had by now rolled on his back and had stopped moving.

Hobbit was racing around. Pauline was hysterical. To calm her down two policemen had taken her to the cages to see gorillas inside. She could see through the glass the animals were calm and locked up. She did not know till following day that a 17 stone gorilla was running around the enclosure with her boy inside.

She could not understand why Levan had not been rescued.

It was Brian Fox’s day to be ambulance attendant on this emergency call. He had received a call that a boy was in with the gorillas. He thought it must be a joke. The truth would soon hit him.

Relief keeper Andy Wood hadn’t had a chance of relationship with gorillas and the second keeper who was more used to tending the birds had even less. They got into the enclosure just as the ambulance arrived. Andy grabbed a short stick for some sort of protection.

Hobbit was still racing around. Andy entered the enclosure and decided to give a positive tall stance and stand his ground. Hobbit gave an aggressive display and wanted to get closer to see what was happening.

At this time Levan was crying. Brian Fox saw this as a good sign as his breathing was OK, and he was conscious. They tried to work out a plan to get him out. Levan then rolled over on his back, stopped crying and started making choking noises. This could suffocate him. Without knowing if Levan could have spinal injuries the keepers could not move him. Someone had to check the boy and quickly.

copyright Brian Le lion 2012

Hobbit dashed out

Brian Fox Jumped down into the enclosure. He checked Levan’s spine and then moved him into the recovery position. Brian Fox looked up to see Hobbit running around. He felt sure he might grab the boy. Hobbit was being very bold and even picked up stones and threw them in his the direction. Rene Connon the ambulance driver decided the quickest way to get them out was by rope. He was a cliff rescue instructor so he started to set up a rope. He dropped it over the wall and Brian Fox tied it around himself. Brian carefully held onto Levan and they pulled him up and out of the enclosure.

There was a huge cheer and applause from the crowd. It was a great relief that he was rescued.

Andy and Gary also made safe exits leaving an excited Hobbit to continue to run around the enclosure.

Levan was taken to hospital but because of the concerns over his head injuries he was transferred to the Southampton specialist hospital.

It was not till the next day Pauline was shocked to see the video on the news with Jambo looking over Levan.

We were all happy to know that Levan made a full recovery.

Some weeks later Levan and his family were invited back to Jersey by Jersey Tourism to finish off their holiday.


I called Channel Television

Once I had finished filming (believe it or not) I went home. it took me a few hours to get over the shock of what happened and to take it all in. For some reason, due to the monitor on the camera being black and white it seemed when I was filming that I had viewed something off the TV. It did not seem quite real. I played back the tape to see what I had. It was only then I decided to call Channel Television a local television station.

I asked them if they had heard of what happened and if they would be interested in seeing what I had filmed. They were, so I took the tape into them.

Within 10 minutes of me taking them the tape it was broadcast to the Islands.

It was a great feeling to know what I had captured on tape was being broadcast.

I decided to sell the copyright of the video to Channel Television. They had the knowledge and technology to handle its distribution. This is something that would have been very difficult to do myself.

At the time there was no internet or the ease to distribute the video as there is today.

Channel Television have always been working with my best interests in mind regarding the video’s distribution. I am very grateful to them for all there help.

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