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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ape close and personal: Stunning images which capture primates at their most unguarded

By Daily Mail Reporter

Transfixed by the lens: Pangi, left, is a two-year-old bonobo who was born in Frankfurt Zoo. Right, other members of her family preen each other

Staring into the camera, they appear to be baring their soul.

These intimate portraits of apes at Frankfurt Zoo reveal a side of the animals rarely seen.

German photographer Volker Gutgesell has spent the past four years visiting the zoo's primate enclosure to capture the candid images.

Intimate portrait: Gorilla Rebecca, 27, has had eight babies and is also helping look after her sister Quemba to bring up her children

The 58-year-old says the years spent studying the bonobos, orangutans and gorillas has allowed him to pick up on their body language and take the perfect shot in a way few other photographers have managed.

Gutgesell started taking the images to help him cope with severe back pain caused by a slipped disc. He used to travel the world as a media manager until the injury in 2004.

Then in 2007 he developed tinnitus as a result of his injury, causing a constant ringing in his ears. But despite his condition, he has found a way of communicating through his pictures.

He said: 'I stand for many hours watching both the apes and the families that visit them.'

Eye contact: Galdikas, left, is one of four orang-utans at the zoo, and bonobo Heri, right, is also ten years old

Total control: A bonobo balances a nut in her lips

Peak of his powers and recent arrival: A male gorilla and a young bonobo at the zoo

'The more you watch them the more similarities you see between us and them.'

'Their movement is so strikingly similar to ours it becomes quite easy to read what's going on.

'Eye contact is very important - sometimes they see into the camera lens and become transfixed.

'The bonobos are funny creatures - they're my favourite.They live in a society where the males are ruled by the females.'

'So you see the males trying desperately to socialise as much as possible - by preening the females - they can't do enough for them!

'My urgent message is for us to learn from the gentle conduct of our animal relatives the primates.'



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