Staff from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park endured an emotional rough patch on Thursday following the death of one of the world’s oldest-known captive gorillas.
Image Credit: San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Vila, as the park staff and visitors called her, celebrated her 60th birthday just three months before her passing. She initially moved to the zoo in 1959 and later to the park in 1975. She spent a lot of her time there acting as a surrogate mother for younger gorillas.
Vila contributed a lot to the park throughout her lifetime. Citing the park’s Twitter account, she was a matriarch of five generations, and her entire zoo family kept her company during her time of passing.
The exact cause of death is unknown as of this writing, but her old age probably had something to do with it. Most gorillas are fortunate to live beyond 35 years of age, and Vila nearly doubled that despite suffering from a range of health complications.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recognizes Western lowland gorillas as a critically-endangered animal species. Contemporary issues like over-hunting and habitat loss have only exacerbated this concern, and conservation efforts can barely keep up with it.
Although Vila is no longer with us, she left behind offspring to carry on her legacy. Perhaps they’ll follow in her footsteps – living long lives and pushing the species in the right direction.
Source: San Diego Zoo Safari Park