On Tuesday, Ozzie, the world’s oldest male gorilla and the third-oldest gorilla in the world died. He was 61.
Zoo Atlanta said the cause of death is not yet known in a news release.
According to the release, Ozzie was considered a true legend at the zoo. He was the last surviving member of the original gorillas who arrived for the opening of the Ford African Rain Forest exhibit in 1988.
According to zookeepers, staff noticed a decline in Ozzie’s appetite last week.
“Over the past 24 hours, the teams had been treating him when he presented symptoms including facial swelling, weakness, and inability to eat or drink,” the zoo said in its release.
An autopsy will be performed to determine his cause of death.
Ozzie’s death comes less than one week after his habitat-mate, Choomba, was euthanized due to a decline in her health. She was 59.
The pair had lived together in the same habitat for more than 15 years.
According to his biography on the zoo’s website, Ozzie communicated with staff by using “reply” vocalizations and a sequence of characteristic raps the doors or windows.
“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,” zoo president Raymond B. King said in the news release.
“Ozzie’s life’s contributions are indelible, in the generations of individuals he leaves behind in the gorilla population and in the world’s body of knowledge in the care of his species. Our thoughts are with his care team, who have lost a part of their lives and a part of their hearts.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the western lowland gorilla is listed as critically endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over the last 25 years, the combined threats of poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, habitat loss, and emerging diseases have reduced western lowland gorilla populations by 60%. Declines of 90% are documented in some parts of their range in west Africa.
Ozzie has more than 20 descendants, according to the zoo. His offspring live at other accredited zoos in the US and Canada.