How the Oldest Living Gorilla Celebrates Her 58th Birthday

How the Oldest Living Gorilla Celebrates Her 58th Birthday
How the Oldest Living Gorilla Celebrates Her 58th Birthday

Famous for being the first gorilla born in human care, recognized for being the oldest gorilla to have ever lived, and beloved for her stately demeanor, Colo is about to celebrate her 58th birthday at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Monday, Dec. 22 marks the anniversary of Colo’s landmark birth, which took place at the Columbus Zoo in 1956.

On that day, guests can watch the mighty matriarch unwrap presents of tomatoes and clementines; chow down on her Ohio-shaped, nutrient-rich birthday cake; and be serenaded by a chorus of Zoo-staff and fans.

For the second year in a row, visitors can join the festivities online as well as on grounds. A special birthday video will be aired at 1:30 p.m. EST, followed by a livestream broadcast of the celebration at 2 p.m. EST. Guests can also join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook by using the #ColoGorilla tag.

“Every birthday Colo has is a momentous occasion,” said Tom Stalf, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “Her historic birth and her amazing longevity have come to represent historic achievements in gorilla care and conservation. We are so pleased to be able to celebrate this day with people from around the globe.”

Since gaining fame for her historic birth, Colo has also been recognized for her extraordinarily long life. She is the oldest gorilla currently on record, making every birthday thereafter a milestone for gorilla conservation.

The median life expectancy for female gorillas living in zoos is about 37 years. Despite her advanced age, she’s still as active and alert as ever.

Colo is a western lowland gorilla — a critically endangered species threatened by poaching, habitat destruction and Ebola. While populations of wild gorillas continue to drop at an alarming rate, Colo’s genealogy offers some hope to the survival of the species. Her family tree includes three children, 16 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

Home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 575 species from around the globe, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium connects people and wildlife.

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Rakesh Raman