Happy birth­day Colo: US go­rilla turns 60

The na­tion’s old­est liv­ing go­rilla

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -


She is a mother of three, grand­mother of 16, great-grand­mother of 12 and great-great-grand­mother of three. She re­cently had surgery to re­move a ma­lig­nant tu­mor, but doc­tors say she’s do­ing well. She’s Colo, the na­tion’s old­est liv­ing go­rilla, and she turned 60 on Thurs­day at the Colum­bus Zoo and Aquar­ium. Colo was the first go­rilla in the world born in a zoo and has sur­passed the usual life ex­pectancy of cap­tive go­ril­las by two decades. Her longevity is putting a spot­light on the med­i­cal care, nu­tri­tion and up-to-date ther­a­peu­tic tech­niques that are help­ing lengthen zoo an­i­mals’ lives.

“Colo just epit­o­mizes the ad­vances that zoos have made, go­ing all the way back to her birth at Colum­bus,” said Dr Tom Mee­han, vice pres­i­dent for vet­eri­nary ser­vices at Chicago’s Brook­field Zoo and vet­eri­nary ad­viser to a na­tional go­rilla species sur­vival plan. The changes also mean more an­i­mals liv­ing with the nor­mal aches and pains of grow­ing older. To­day, zoo vet­eri­nar­i­ans reg­u­larly treat an­i­mals for heart and kid­ney dis­ease, arthri­tis, den­tal prob­lems and cancer.

‘Trib­ute to the zoo’

Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered at the zoo Thurs­day to see Colo, singing “Happy Birth­day” mo­ments be­fore the go­rilla am­bled into an en­clo­sure dec­o­rated with mul­ti­col­ored con­struc­tion pa­per chains and filled with cakes such as squash and beet and corn­bread with mashed potato pars­ley frost­ing. Among the first in line was Pam Sch­lereth of Colum­bus, who at 63 was just a lit­tle girl when her fa­ther brought her to see the new­born Colo in a go­rilla in­cu­ba­tor in 1956. “It’s a trib­ute to the zoo that she’s alive at 60 years old,” Sch­lereth said.

Colo rep­re­sents so much to the zoo, Tom Stalf, pres­i­dent of the zoo, told the crowd. “It’s all about con­nect­ing peo­ple and wildlife,” he said. Colo is one of sev­eral el­derly go­ril­las around the coun­try. The old­est known liv­ing male go­rilla, Ozzie, is 55 years old and lives at the At­lanta Zoo, which has a geri­atric go­rilla spe­cialty. At Seat­tle’s Wood­land Park Zoo, staff mem­bers use acupunc­ture, mas­sage, laser ther­apy, and heat and joint sup­ple­ments to help Emma, a 13year-old rab­bit. At the Na­tional Zoo in Wash­ing­ton, Shan­thi, a 42-year-old Asian ele­phant with arthri­tis, re­ceives os­teoarthri­tis ther­apy and was re­cently fit­ted with spe­cially crafted front foot boots to help her feet heal as med­i­ca­tions are ap­plied.

In Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, Tiki, a 27-yearold gi­raffe and one of the old­est in the na­tion, gets foot care, mas­sage ther­apy, acupunc­ture and chi­ro­prac­tic care, along with tra­di­tional vet­eri­nary medicine. Gao Gao, a 26-year-old male panda at the San Diego Zoo with a heart con­di­tion, pe­ri­od­i­cally un­der­goes car­diac ul­tra­sounds.

“Geri­atrics is prob­a­bly one of our most com­mon med­i­cal chal­lenges that we face in a zoo sit­u­a­tion,” said Dr. Keith Hin­shaw, di­rec­tor of an­i­mal health at the Philadel­phia Zoo. “So pretty much any­thing that you could imag­ine would hap­pen with an older per­son is go­ing to hap­pen even­tu­ally with any an­i­mal.” That’s up to and in­clud­ing med­i­ca­tion: JJ, a 45-year-old orangutan at the Toledo Zoo, is on the hu­man heart medicines carvedilol and Lisino­pril, along with pain and or­tho­pe­dic med­i­ca­tions. He also takes Me­ta­mu­cil.

Age de­fy­ing an­i­mals

Colo, a west­ern low­land go­rilla, holds sev­eral other records. On her 56th birth­day in 2012, she ex­ceeded the record for long­est-lived go­rilla. On Thurs­day, she sur­passes the me­dian life ex­pectancy for fe­male go­ril­las in hu­man care (37.5 years) by more than two decades. Other age-de­fy­ing zoo an­i­mals:


Coldilocks, a 36-year-old po­lar bear at the Philadel­phia Zoo and con­sid­ered the old­est po­lar bear in the US The bears’ typ­i­cal life­span in cap­tiv­ity is 23 years. The zoo says treat­ing her early for kid­ney dis­ease ap­pears to have helped pro­long her life.


Elly, an east­ern black rhino at the San Fran­cisco Zoo es­ti­mated to be 46 years old, is the old­est of her species in North Amer­ica. She has had 14 calves, and her off­spring have pro­duced 15 grand­chil­dren, 6 great-grand­chil­dren and 1 great­great-grand­child.


Packy, an Asian ele­phant at the Ore­gon Zoo, and at 54, the old­est male of his species in North Amer­ica. The zoo says Packy, born in 1962, be­came the first ele­phant to be born in the West­ern Hemi­sphere in 44 years.


Nikko, a 33-year-old snow mon­key at the Min­nesota Zoo, the old­est male snow mon­key in North Amer­ica.


Lit­tle Mama, a chim­panzee liv­ing at Lion Coun­try Sa­fari in Lox­a­hatchee, Florida, with an es­ti­mated age in her late 70s. She takes al­lergy medicine, iron sup­ple­ments and omega 3 mul­ti­vi­ta­mins, and has been trained to ac­cept a neb­u­lizer treat­ment for cough­ing.


Emer­son, a Gala­pa­gos tor­toise at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio, whose age is es­ti­mated at about 100. — AP

COLUM­BUS: Colo, the na­tion’s old­est liv­ing go­rilla, sits inside of her en­clo­sure dur­ing her 60th birth­day party at the Colum­bus Zoo and Aquar­ium. — AP

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