One of the world's oldest silverback gorillas has died.

Nico, whose 56th birthday was celebrated in July, died in his sleep on Sunday, Longleat Safari Park said.

He spent most of his life at the park in Wiltshire after arriving from Switzerland in the 1980s.

A spokeswoman for Longleat said on Facebook: "Everyone here has been truly saddened by the death of Nico.

"His main keeper has been working with Nico virtually on a daily basis since 1989 and has forged an extraordinarily close bond with him.

"It goes without saying that he is particularly devastated by the loss along with the rest of his keeping team who have cared for Nico over the years."

Keepers were unsure of Nico's exact age and there was a likelihood he may have been older than 56.

The gorilla, who once tipped the scales at 34 stone, lived on his own island in the middle of a lake at Longleat in a purpose built, centrally-heated house, complete with classical pillars and his own television.

He also had a series of lookout stations and giant tree trunk climbing frames where he could sit and watch the antics of the nearby colony of three younger gorillas - brothers Kesho, Evindi and Alf.

The oldest male gorilla in the world lives in the USA and was born in 1961 while the oldest female, who also lives in America, was born in 1956.