September 6, 2008

Oldest Gorilla in Captivity Dies at Dallas Zoo


By Linda Stewart Ball

The Associated Press


The oldest gorilla in captivity, a 55-year-old female named Jenny, has died at the Dallas Zoo - her home for more than half a century, a spokesman said Friday.

Zoo officials decided to euthanize Jenny on Thursday night because of an inoperable tumor in her stomach. Jenny had stopped eating and drinking recently, and tests showed she was unlikely to recover, zoo spokesman Sean Greene said.

"The last couple of weeks we noticed that she hadn't been feeling all that great," Greene said. "It was a quality-of-life decision."

The International Species Information System, which maintains records on animals at 700 institutions around the world, confirmed earlier this year that Jenny was the oldest gorilla in its database.

The zoo held a birthday bash in May to celebrate Jenny's longevity, complete with a cake made of frozen fruit treats for the guest of honor.

Jenny was said to have a sweet disposition and enjoyed being around people. She was often seen napping below a fig tree in her habitat.

"We had a tough time saying goodbye," said Todd Bowsher, curator of the zoo's mammals in the Wilds of Africa exhibit.

Jenny, a Western lowland gorilla, was born in the wild and was acquired by the zoo in 1957. She gave birth in 1965 to a female named Vicki, and officials aren't sure why she didn't conceive again. Vicki was sent to a Canadian zoo at age 5.

At the time of Jenny's death she was one of five gorillas at the Dallas Zoo.

Gorillas in the wild normally live to age 30 or 35, but they can survive years longer in a zoo, with veterinary care and protection from predators .

According to the International Species Information System, the oldest living gorilla is now Colo, a 51-year-old female at Ohio's Columbus Zoo who was the first gorilla born in captivity.

Originally published by BY LINDA STEWART BALL.

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