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Choomba, 59-year-old gorilla in poor health, euthanized by zoo

Choomba, an ancestor of the Atlanta Zoo’s gorilla family, has died at 59.

Zoo officials said the elderly primate was euthanized on Thursday following illness. Vets “had been monitoring Choomba closely in recent days following a marked decline in his physical condition due to advanced arthritis and other age-related complications,” they said in a statement.

He continued, “Given his bleak prognosis and concerned about his comfort and quality of life, the teams made the extremely difficult decision to euthanize him.”

“This is an extremely difficult day for the Atlanta Zoo and especially for the Choomba care team, who knew her intimately and saw and looked after her daily with the utmost dedication,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, vice president of zoo collections and conservation.

Choomba was “sassy, ​​strong, independent, fiery and fiercely loyal to her family,” said Jodi Carrigan, associate curator of primates, according to a farewell post on Instagram. “We will miss her very much.”

Choomba was brought to the Atlanta Zoo in the 1980s and became the matriarch of four generations of gorillas there.
Atlanta Zoo

Choomba, a western lowland gorilla, came to the Atlanta Zoo in 1988 and became the matriarch of four generations after giving birth to three gorillas in her lifetime: Machi, Kudzoo, and Sukari, who still reside at the zoo. “His descendants include grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild living in accredited zoos across the United States,” the statement added.

The zoo’s second oldest gorilla until his death, Choomba partnered with another elder in their group – Ozzie, 61, now “the world’s oldest living male gorilla,” according to the zoo. Gorillas are considered “geriatric” after the age of 40, they noted.

“Choomba leaves a tremendous legacy to the Atlanta Zoo, the zoological gorilla population of North America, and the hearts of those who knew it best,” Mickelberg said.

New York Post

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