Online star Ambam set to turn 24

A gorilla which became an online sensation when footage emerged of him walking like a human celebrates his 24th birthday tomorrow.

Ambam has amazed onlookers by walking around on his back legs
Ambam has amazed onlookers by walking around on his back legs

Internet video of western lowland gorilla Ambam aping humans with his unusual habit of walking upright has been viewed nearly six million times since 2011.

Normally gorillas get around on all fours, but Ambam has perfected balancing on his two hind legs at Port Lympne wild animal park near Hythe, Kent.

His habit of walking like a human is also exhibited by his sister Tamba and her two-year-old son Kabale, a park spokesman said.

Head of gorillas Phil Ridges said: "All gorillas have the ability to stand upright to some degree, although they often choose not to, but Ambam and his sister have a particular talent at standing and walking completely upright on two legs."

Ambam shares his birthday with stars including actresses Julie Christie and Sarah Michelle Gellar, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber and actor Robert Carlyle.

Weighing 220kg, Ambam is Port Lympne's biggest gorilla, whose lifespan can stretch from 30 to 50 years. He was born at the park's sister site, Howletts, in 1990.

He was hand-raised for a few months when he was a year old after falling ill, meaning he had to be taken away from his mother Shumba.

The precise number of western lowland gorillas is unclear because they inhabit some of the most dense and remote rainforests in Africa.

But wildlife experts say that due to poaching and disease, as well as Ebola-induced mortality, their numbers have declined by more than 60% over the past 20 to 25 years.