World’s Oldest Gorilla Turns 59 Today

posted: 12/22/15
by: Danny Clemens
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Colo, a western gorilla in residence at the Columbus Zoo, has added yet another candle to her birthday cake. Now 59 years old, she continues to be the oldest living gorilla in human care.

On Tuesday morning, Colo's habitat was filled with colorful construction paper chains and enrichment toys to mark the occasion. She will celebrate the day with a clementine, tomato and cupcake feast with her family.

Age isn't slowing down the feisty matriarch; zoo officials report that, apart from arthritis, her health is "fantastic."

Western gorilla Colo
Columbus Zoo via Willard/Flickr

"We embrace every single birthday we have with her," Columbus Zoo assistant curator Audra Meinelt said in a statement.

"It's not yet the big 6-0, but it's the big 5-9! Because she is so old, every single day with her, not just her birthday, is a gift. We are lucky for every moment we get to spend with her."

Related: The Faces of Poaching: Digit the Mountain Gorilla

Colo has exceeded the life expectancy for gorillas both in the wild and in human care; a gorilla in a zoo will live less than four decades on average. Wild gorillas continue to be threatened by poaching and the spread of infectious diseases, such as Ebola, which often prevent them from reaching old age.

Her 1956 birth marked the first instance of a gorilla being born into human care. She earned the distinction of being the world's oldest known gorilla in 2012, when 55-year-old western lowland gorilla Jenny passed away.


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