Monday, January 16, 2006

Gorilla becomes Czech reality-show winner

Richard, a 14-year old grey-and-black gorilla, was declared the winner of the Prague zoo's alternative reality show on Sunday and can look forward to a first prize of 12 melons (melon meaning million in Czech slang), the zoo said.

Richard, the dominant male in the group of four gorillas, received the most SMS votes from viewers who have been able to follow the gorillas' every day activities on a web-cam internet site launched by the zoo on November 7 last year.

Regular reports were also carried on Czech radio and by the Czech public-service broadcaster, Czech Television.

The gorilla show, called Odhaleni (Exposed), was launched by the zoo when the Czech Republic appeared in the grip of reality-show fever with both of the country's two main commercial stations broadcasting daily updates on the activities of their human contestants.

It was the animal version that won the approval of Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek when he visited the zoo in December.

He described it as "more tasteful" than its human counterparts, which were both fined millions of koruna by the Czech broadcasting watchdog for their foul language and sexually explicit behaviour.

Richard has been ahead in viewer preferences for several weeks, a fact the zoo described as somewhat surprising given his "authoritative" and not "always positive behaviour".

A serious goal lay behind the zoo's cheeky send-up of reality shows. Money raised from the SMS votes will go to help save gorillas in the wild.

Story here.

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