Washington, Jan 25 (EFE).- The world’s oldest male gorilla has died at the age of 61, Zoo Atlanta announced on Tuesday.
The gorilla was found dead by his care team, and the cause is not yet known, the zoo said in a statement, adding that staff were “heartbroken.”
Ozzie began to show signs of lack of appetite last Thursday and this week experienced swelling in the face, weakness and inability to eat or drink. A necropsy will be carried out.
“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 president and CEO Raymond King.
Ozzie was the third oldest gorilla in the world after two females: Fatou, 64, who lives at Berlin Zoo, and Helen, 64, of Louisville Zoo in Kentucky.
He was the only surviving member of the original generation that arrived at Zoo Atlanta in 1988 and is survived by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren living at Zoo Atlanta as well as others around the US and Canada.
Ozzie made headlines in 2009 when he became the world’s first gorilla to have his blood pressure voluntarily taken. At the time, he was 48 years old and already considered geriatric as he was over 40, the zoo said.
Last year, Ozzie and 12 other gorillas at Zoo Atlanta contracted Covid-19, presumably from an asymptomatic staff member, according to NBC News.
Ozzie was a western lowland gorilla, which is critically endangered and found mostly in the Congo Basin area. Poaching and disease have caused the gorilla’s numbers to decline by more than 60 percent over the last 20 to 25 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund. EFE