It was a very big birthday for the Mitchell brothers of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, as two chimpanzees named after Albert Square’s most notorious duo celebrated their 18th birthdays yesterday.
Named Phil and Grant by EastEnders actress Pam St Clements after she visited the zoo on the day both chimps were born, the brothers enjoyed their very own birthday bash with special presents and even a mammoth cardboard cake.
Zookeepers stuffed colourfully-wrapped presents with nuts, seeds and sultanas as well as building a huge cardboard cake containing Phil and Grant’s favourite treats. However, the birthday boys had to share, as the Zoo’s other chimps - Nikki, Bonnie, Koko and Elvis - were also invited to the celebrations.Naturally, neither the cake nor the presents lastest long as the chimps searched for the food inside. Within 10 minutes Grant had already decided that he would use his birthday cake as a hiding spot.
They may not be quite as troublesome as their namesakes in Albert Square, but the primate Mitchell brothers are notorious with keepers and visitors. Zookeeper Graeme Williamson says: “Everyone at Whipsnade has a soft spot for the mischievous duo. They are often seen chasing one another around like rowdy teenagers.
“Grant is known as a bit of a greedy chimp. He loves being the centre of attention and trying to get his hands on more of his favourite treats, especially banana, grapes and monkey nuts. Phil is the smaller and shyer of the two. He can often be seen swinging from ropes in the Zoo’s ‘Chimpnasium.’
“Both Phil and Grant love investigating new things, so the party was an excellent way to encourage their natural inquisitive behaviours and celebrate their 18th birthdays.”