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World's Oldest Male Gorilla Passes Away at Zoo Atlanta

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: January 26, 2022 10:40 am

Gorilla Zoo Atlanta

Ozzie the western lowland gorilla is pictured in his habitat at Zoo Atlanta prior to his passing

Photo Credit: Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta have farewelled the oldest male western lowland gorilla in the world. Ozzie, a 61 year old gorilla was found deceased in his habitat on January 25th 2022.

This is the second gorilla to pass away at Zoo Atlanta this month. Their second oldest gorilla Choomba passed away at the age of 59 on January 13th 2022. Carers made the choice to euthanize her following a decline in quality of life.

As yet the cause of death of Ozzie has not been determined. Keepers first noticed a decrease in his appetite on Thursday, January 20th 2022. Animal care and veterinary teams had been providing him supportive care to encourage him to eat and drink.

Over the last 24 hours care had increased as symptoms such as facial swelling, weakness, and inability to eat or drink presented. Through the Zoo’s partnership with the University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine a necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

“This is a devastating loss for Zoo Atlanta. While we knew this time would come someday, that inevitability does nothing to stem the deep sadness we feel at losing a legend,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO.

“Ozzie’s life’s contributions are indelible, in the generations of individuals he leaves behind in the gorilla population and in the world’s body of knowledge in the care of his species. Our thoughts are with his care team, who have lost a part of their lives and a part of their hearts.”

Ozzie is the last surviving gorilla from the original troop which arrived at Zoo Atlanta with the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988.

He made history in 2009 when he became the  first gorilla in the world ever to participate in a voluntary blood pressure reading. Even at this time he was considered geriatric. Gorillas are considered geriatric at the age of 40.

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The long life enjoyed by Ozzie is a testament to the world leading care offered to gorillas at Zoo Atlanta. Zoo Atlanta's gorilla program specializes in the care of geriatric gorillas. They often share their expertise with professionals from other zoos.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have listed the species as critically endangered following poaching, habitat loss, illegal hunting and emerging disease in the region.

Zoo Atlanta also contribute to the  the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse gorilla population for future generations.

As part of the program 24 gorilla infants have been born at the zoo.

Over the history of the gorilla program at Zoo Atlanta over 100 papers have been published.

For more than 20 years Zoo Atlanta have also supported wild gorillas through a partnership with the The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, by providing pro-bono headquarters space, information technology support and financial resources.

Learn more about Gorillas here – Gorilla Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about Zoo Atlanta on their website – Zoo Atlanta

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