ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) — The world’s oldest male gorilla, named Ozzie, was found dead by his care team at the Atlanta zoo Tuesday, zoo officials announced. Ozzie was 61.
The cause of the gorilla’s death was not immediately known though Ozzie began showing signs of low appetite last week, the zoo said in a news release. The zoo’s veterinary team treated Ozzie for symptoms including facial swelling, weakness and inability to eat or drink fluids.
Ozzie, a lowland gorilla, was the world’s oldest male gorilla and the third-oldest gorilla in the world.
“This is a devastating loss for Zoo Atlanta,” said Raymond Kind, president and CEO of the zoo. “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.”
A necropsy will be performed by the University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the news release said.
Ozzie was the only surviving member of a generation brought to Zoo Atlanta with the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988. He became the world’s first gorilla in the world to participate in a voluntary blood pressure reading in 2009.
The primate is survived by seven descendants at the Atlanta zoo and many other offspring at other zoos in the United States and Canada, the news release stated.
Lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered because of poaching, habitat loss, and drastic population reductions from disease. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, their numbers have decreased by 60 percent and as much as 90 percent in some parts of western Africa.