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Monkey for Old Rope

Primates Go Ape for Port Towing Line

Ropes used by Port of Dover tugs have been shipped to a wildlife park… for apes to play on.

Boat crews have handed more than 100 metres of 6 inch diameter tug gear to Wingham Wildlife Park, near Canterbury, where keepers will incorporate it into three new primate enclosures.

The lines – used to tow thousands of tonnes of cargo, cruise and ferry shipping in and out of Dover’s berths – are changed regularly to ensure they don’t weaken or break while hauling a load.

“The rope can’t be used for anything else once we’ve finished with it so, ordinarily, we’d have to dispose of it to landfill,” said Julian Bird, the Port’s Senior Coxswain. “But we’ve found it’s quite popular with apes, so it’s an excellent and unusual way to recycle.”

The Port first donated tug gear in 2015 when the Park sent an all-round email encouraging public support for its plans to rehouse seven Western Chimpanzees from the Yerkes National Primate Research Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.

Those original ropes formed part of a £1.5million, 12,700-square-foot habitat created at Wingham’s entrance specifically for the apes.

The Port’s boat crews have since looked to donate other equipment, like old plastic navigation buoys, which can be reused by the Park for animals to play with.

The latest consignment of rope, says Wingham, will go into three 80m x 20m primate enclosures.

Markus Wilder, Animal Curator from the Wildlife Park, said: “All of our funds go straight back to either looking after the animals at our park or providing conservation support to animals in the wild.  Using ropes is a great alternative to having jungle vines for our rainforest species, with the new exhibits telling the story of deforestation around the world.  Having the ropes helps us to mimic a rainforest setting, whilst giving us an opportunity to recycle these ropes.  Once they are with us, we will still have many more years of use out of them, and by having them donated it leaves more money for us to invest at the park or to support chimpanzees and remote communities in Uganda.”