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Zoo Atlanta Mourn Passing of Gorilla, Choomba, 59

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: January 15, 2022 12:01 am

Gorilla Passing Zoo Atlanta

Choomba is pictured at Zoo Atlanta prior to her passing

Photo Credit: Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta have shared the sad news that their gorilla, Choomba has passed away, aged 59. Choomba was the second oldest gorilla housed at the zoo and was recognized as the fourth oldest in human care globally.

Animal care teams had been monitoring Choomba after observing a marked decline in her physical condition. This was attributed to advanced arthritis and other age-related complications.

Following concerns around her quality of life and a poor prognosis for recovery carers made the decision to humanely euthanize her on January 13th 2022.

“This is an extremely difficult day for Zoo Atlanta and most particularly for Choomba’s care team, who knew her intimately and saw and cared for her daily with the greatest dedication. We commend the truly valiant efforts of our Gorilla and Veterinary Teams to help Choomba, from supportive care and laser therapy for her arthritis, to forward-thinking updates to the spaces used by our geriatric gorillas,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation.

Choomba leaves behind a lasting legacy at Zoo Atlanta having been a founding member of the gorilla colony at the zoo in the 1980s. She was among the first inhabitants in the landmark Ford African Rain Forest.

This includes being mother to Kudzoo, the first offspring of the legendary late Willie B. She has grandchildren and great-grandchildren spread across accredited zoos in North America.

“Choomba leaves a tremendous legacy at Zoo Atlanta, in the zoological gorilla population in North America, and in the hearts of those who knew her best,” added Mickelberg.

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A gorilla is considered to be geriatric after their 40th birthday. Choomba lived with other geriatric gorillas including 61 year old Ozzie, the oldest male gorilla under human care.

Zoo Atlanta have led innovations in habitat and space accommodations for senior gorillas.

Choomba was an important ambassador for her species which has been reduced to a critically endangered species in her lifetime. Over a 25 year period their numbers have declined by as much as 60% due to poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, habitat loss and emerging diseases.

Twenty four gorillas have been born as part of the insurance breeding program at Zoo Atlanta. Zoo Atlanta are active researchers in to gorilla care having authored more than 100 published papers on maternal care, reproduction, social behavior and cognition.

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.

A necropsy will be performed in partnership with University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Preliminary results should be available in several weeks.

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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