Bronx Zoo Gorilla: Pattycake And 3 Other Zoo Gorillas That Recently Died

By iScienceTimes Staff on April 1, 2013 11:27 AM EDT

Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo was Pattycake's home since 1983. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A Bronx Zoo gorilla named Pattycake, the first gorilla born in New York City, died at the Bronx Zoo at the age of 40, according to the Associated Press.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the zoo, made the announcement of the Bronx Zoo gorilla's death on Sunday and said a necropsy would be performed to determine the cause of death. It did say, though, that Pattycake surpassed the median life span for gorillas in zoos, which is 37 years old, and was the 31st oldest gorilla of 338 living in North American zoos. She suffered from chronic cardiac problems.

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"Millions of children in New York City grew up with Pattycake at the Bronx Zoo," said Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo and WCS Executive Vice President and General Director of Zoos & Aquarium. "Pattycake was a very special animal and her presence will be deeply missed."

Pattycake was actually born at the Central Park Zoo on Sept. 3, 1972 and lived there with her parents Kongo and Lulu until 1983 when she became a Bronx Zoo gorilla. At five months old, she suffered a broken arm. Two books were also written about her.

While at the Bronx Zoo, Pattycake had 10 infants, including twins born in 1995. Her offspring live in zoos in Boston, Mass., Buffalo, N.Y., Detroit, Mich., Louisville, Ky., Omaha, Neb., and Utah.

The death of Bronx Zoo gorilla Pattycake follows some recent deaths of other beloved zoo gorillas. Here are three of them:

The first gorilla born at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in more than a decade died in early June 2012 after going into cardiac and respiratory arrest, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The gorilla, a four-month-old baby male who wasn't named, suffered from episodes of lethargy and was hypothermic with low blood sugar. He had gone into respiratory arrest before veterinarians worked for 10 hours to revive him.  

Born on Feb. 9, 2012, the baby gorilla was the first gorilla born at the zoo since 2001, and the first offspring born to Moka, a 15-year-old female brought to Pittsburgh from the Miami Zoo in 2007, and Mrithi, a 20-year-old male who was the first gorilla born at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

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A silverback gorilla at the Oklahoma City Zoo named Bom Bom died in late June 2012 of heart disease, according to the Oklahoman.

Bom Bom, diagnosed with heart disease in January 2010, had a ruptured aneurysm in his heart. Zookeepers noticed him having trouble getting around -- he was moving slowly, short of breath and unable to use his hips correctly -- so veterinarians examined him suspecting back trouble, heart disease or both. They discovered that his heart muscle had thickened and his blood pressure was high.

Bom Bom was put on blood pressure medicine, as a result, and got better, but about two months prior to his death, he started losing weight. His keepers then gave him extra food, especially protein, yet he kept losing weight and was lethargic. After being given more medicine for his arthritis and his blood pressure, Bom Bom felt better again, but again, he kept losing weight, dropping from about 330 pounds to 287.

Finally, he suddenly died while walking outside in the morning.

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In late October 2012, a 30-year-old silverback and Western lowland gorilla named Kwashi died at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden from a serious abdominal infection, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier.

The 320-pound gorilla was born at the Memphis Zoo on May 16, 1982, and came to the Cincinnati Zoo in May 2010 from the Knoxville Zoo to live with a bachelorette group of gorillas, Chewie, Samantha and M'Linzi.

Primate keepers saw a change in Kwashi's eating habits and said that he was drinking less as the day of his death progressed. He was lethargic, unable to stand on his own and dehydrated.

The zoo veterinarian, two staff veterinary technicians, a team of local human physicians made up of an area anesthesiologist, as well as surgeons and a cardiac ultrasound technician from Christ Hospital made the emergency house call to the zoo about Kwashi. As the evaluation began, it was noticed that Kwashi's temperature was low and his heart rate was almost undetectable. Quick attempts to get Kwashi fluid were made, but his health was deteriorating fast, and, as a result, he passed away shortly after the procedure began.

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