ATLANTA, GA (WALB) - The Zoo Atlanta announced Friday that Shamba, a 58-year-old female western lowland gorilla died at the facility.
Shamba, the oldest gorilla at Zoo Atlanta and one of the oldest gorillas in the world, was found unresponsive by her care team today.
After a thorough examination the team made the difficult decision to euthanize her, rather than jeopardize her quality of life.
"Shamba was an extraordinary individual, beloved by her care team and the Zoo Atlanta family, and her passing is very difficult, especially for those who knew her best and interacted with her daily," said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions. "She leaves an incredible legacy behind, not just as a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great grandmother, but as an original member of what is today an award-winning gorilla program because of individuals like her."
Western lowland gorillas are considered geriatric after the age of about 35, and Shamba was one of a group of three very special senior gorillas at Zoo Atlanta. Shamba and her female counterpart, 54-year-old Choomba, were fondly referred to as the "Golden Girls" by their Zoo family. Their male companion, 56-year-old Ozzie, is the oldest living male gorilla in the world. Choomba and Ozzie are both behaving normally following the loss of their group member.
In her nearly three decades at the Zoo, Shamba was not only one of the founders of the Zoo Atlanta gorilla program, but also an ambassador for her species, which is now critically endangered.
A necropsy will be performed through the Zoo's partnership with the University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Preliminary results should be available in several weeks.
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