EUROPE'S oldest silverback gorilla Nico is celebrating his 56th birthday at Longleat Safari Park this weekend.

To mark the special occasion, the keepers of the western lowland gorilla have provided him with a selection of presents, a card and tasty gifts including a birthday cake made out of bananas and courgettes with some carrot candles.

"It is not easy to come up with new gifts for Nico but we know what he likes and so we gave him a variety of tasty treats to help him celebrate," said keeper Mark Tye.

"Although he is now a very old man, Nico’s is still extremely active and in amazingly good condition considering his age.

"He is an extraordinarily impressive animal and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend so much time in his company.

Nico, who lives on his own island in the middle of a lake at Longleat, has a purpose built, centrally-heated house, complete with classical pillars and his own television.