New Zealand zoo bans 'wizard' for upsetting gorillas

"They weren't agitated at all -- they seemed to be enjoying the singing," self-proclaimed wizard Andrew Wright said of the gorillas at Orana Wildlife Park.
By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |  Aug. 17, 2015 at 12:02 PM
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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A New Zealand man who describes himself as a "wizard" has been banned by a zoo for chanting and beating his chest at gorillas.

The Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch said Andrew Wright, a self-proclaimed wizard and energy healer, has been banned from the zoo after back-to-back visits last week left the park's three gorillas agitated.

Nathan Hawke, the zoo's marketing manager, said staff members asked Wright to stop chanting, beating his chest and mimicking the primates, but his behavior persisted.

Wright said officials misunderstood the gorillas' reaction to his presence.

"They weren't agitated at all -- they seemed to be enjoying the singing," he told

Wright said one of the gorillas came up to the glass to give him a high five, but officials said the gesture was misunderstood by the visitor.

"Their perception is 'it's great, the gorilla high-fived me' [when it slaps] the glass," gorilla keeper Rob Clifford told 3news. "[Or] 'the gorilla played tag with me' which was a shoulder-charge to the glass. It's an uneducated view on what actually happened."

The gorillas, Fataki, Fuzu and Mahali, came to the zoo from an Australian park in late July.

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