World’s Oldest Male Gorilla Dies Days After Primate Partner Of 15 Years Dies

[Not the gorilla from the story]Stuart Price/AFP via Getty Images

Kay Smythe Reporter
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The world’s oldest male gorilla died Tuesday within days of his long-term primate partner at Zoo Atlanta.

Ozzie, a 61-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla who weighed 350 pounds, was discovered dead by his care team Tuesday, according to the zoo’s press release. Ozzie had stopped eating after his habitat-mate, Choomba, was euthanized due to her failing health. At the time of her death, Choomba was 59-years-old and had lived with Ozzie for more than 15 years. (RELATED: Critical Work Of African Wildlife Consultative Forum Not Deterred By COVID-19)

Ozzie’s cause of death has not been released, but a necropsy — or a non-human autopsy — will be performed in the coming days, the press release said.

Ozzie was the only surviving member of the first generation of gorillas at the zoo. He was brought in for the opening of the Ford African Rain Forest exhibits in 1988, according to the release. Ozzie has fathered and grandfathered more than 20 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He is survived by at least seven who still reside at Zoo Atlanta, the press release said.

Ozzie reportedly hated loud music, and his favorite foods were oranges and cabbage. He made zoological history in 2009 as the first gorilla to participate in a voluntary blood pressure reading, according to the press release.

“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,” Raymond B. King, president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta, said in a statement.

Gorillas have long been a beloved part of America’s culture. In 2016, a poll found that 5% of Americans would vote for Harambe the martyr gorilla for president. Harambe is one of many gorillas in America’s zoos that has received viral fame for interactions with children and other visitors.