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for Gorillas

Trials, tricks and triumphs
of a zoo horticulturalist

Stephen Butler

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for Gorillas

Trials, tricks and triumphs
of a zoo horticulturalist

Stephen Butler

Introduction by Jane Powers


How to Purchase

Irish Customers

For those resident in Ireland, the book can also be purchased via Dublin Zoo.  It can be purchased in person in the Dublin Zoo gift shop, or from the Dublin zoo website.

UK Customers

Copies can be ordered from the Independent Zoo Enthusiasts Society in the UK, please check their website.


European Customers

Copies can be ordered from Klaus Schueling, please check his website 

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Direct Purchase

The book can be purchased directly from the author Stephen Butler by clicking here. The cost is €35 and postal charges will apply. 

To minimise postage costs please consider purchasing multiple copies to distribute locally. Postage is often much better value for multiple books, for example:

  • 1 copy to Europe is €15/€17.50, but 2-4 copies is €23/€45 (depending on country)

  • 1 copy to the USA is €27, 2 is €57, 3 is €60

Please contact Stephen via for more information. 

About the Book

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During the author's 37 years as Curator of Horticulture, Dublin Zoo transformed from an almost Victorian appearance to a verdant green ark. A progressive masterplan focused on animal welfare and themed habitats reflects the spirit of the animals’ natural homelands. Plants have been instrumental in achieving that, for the visitors, and the animals. A well planted habitat gives shade, shelter, and natural enrichment for the animals, all increasing health and wellbeing. Choosing the right plants to survive is key!

Stories of animal interactions with the plants, and insights into the creative thinking well outside of the box of normal horticultural endeavour, make for an entertaining read. But it’s not just purely gardening. The last chapter details many educational stories about plants, their names, their history, their origins, or their interesting and unusual botanical points, especially any animal connections. There is something for everyone in these pages, irrespective of their gardening expertise.

Introduction & Reviews

Introduction, Reviews
& Reader's Comments

Tiergarten Magazine

In the 37 years that Stephen Butler was curator of the gardens at Dublin Zoo, it transformed from an almost Victorian appearance to a verdant ark.

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Reader's Comment

Gardening for gorillas has set the stage for a new area of literature regarding the field of zoo horticulture, it is hoped that this book will encourage more work of this nature as it is truly a fascinating subject.

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Peak Wildlife Park

Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland, Autumn Journal 2022

Not every gardener must accommodate tigers, meerkats, and giraffes. This book is an insight into Stephen Butler’s special world.

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Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland,
The Journal Autumn 2020

Zoo Grapevine &

International Zoo News

If I were starting a zoo or held a directorship at one (we can all dream!), this book would be amongst the first I would put on my shelf – because I’d want my zoo to be a zoological garden.

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Zoo Grapevine & International Zoo News

Irish Times

Gardening for Gorillas.. a fascinating record of the 37 years he spent transforming what was a botanically dull and uninspiring landscape into a series of beautifully planted spaces,

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FIONNUALA FALLON, Irish Times contributor specialising in gardening.

Irish Times

Another Life: Plants and animals in a constant state of warA fascinating book by Dublin Zoo’s head gardener explores his efforts to make animal environments more authentic.

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Irish Times contributor, broadcaster, film-maker and natural-history author.

Book Extracts


Gorilla Rainforest 
The day finally arrived to allow the gorillas access to their new habitat. This was planned... Read more


Orangutan Forest
One of the best plants within the habitat has been globe artichoke Cynara cardunculus, a massive plant... Read more


African Savanna
The second challenge was to hide parts of the 2m tall gabion wall at the back of the animal area... Read more 


Winter’s bark Drimys winteri is certainly full of toxins, warburganal and
polygodial...  Read more


About the Author

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Spanning 50 years, Stephen Butler's career has involved not just the world famous gardens at Hampton Court Palace, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, but also a few years in Bangladesh. Travel around that area, including Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalaya, and Calcutta in the plains of the Ganges, certainly broadened the mind.

He has had a keen interest in gardening societies such as the Irish Garden Plant Society and the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland. Equally, involvement with horticultural organisations such as the Professional Gardeners Guild and Plant Heritage in the UK has been productive. Zoo plant groups too benefitted from his energy and knowledge.





For any inquiries, please contact the author at

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