Circle of life at the zoo

Only days after the zoo celebrated the birth of a baby gorilla, a
Western lowland gorilla named Kathy died early this morning. Cause of
death is pending an autopsy.

The 50-year-old Kathy came to the OKC facility from the Philadelphia Zoo in 1971.

“Kathy was considered the matriarch of her troop,” said Alan Varsik, the OKC Zoo’s deputy director.

“She had a gentle and caring nature, and we will greatly miss her presence.”

The median life expectancy for gorillas is about 35 years, according to zoo officials. They attribute the rise in geriatric zoo and aquarium animals nationwide to advances in veterinary medicine, nutrition and habitats.

Valentine’s Day saw the birth of a male Western lowland gorilla at the zoo.

The father, a silverback named Bom Bom, passed away in July but — in what came as a surprise for zoo officials — had impregnated Kelele, one of the female apes.

It took several days for zoo workers to determine the gender of the newest inhabitant, as the protective mother has held the baby so tightly to her.

Kelele with her baby male
credit: Gillian Lang
Gazette staff

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