The Berlin Zoo (Germany) is celebrating! This April 13, 2018, Gorilla Fatou, the oldest confirmed gorilla to ever live celebrated her 61st birthday. The zookeepers didn’t miss the opportunity to celebrate with her, and made her a huge birthday cake! Take a look how much she enjoyed it!
The story of Fatou is quite an adventure. By its species, it’s thought that she’s native from The Congo, and by the way that she arrived at the zoo, they cannot determine the exact age. Although veterinarians say that her birth is between 1956 and 1957. I mean that Fatou’s age 2018 is 61.
An almost species: Gorillas are classified within the species in danger of extinction group. They come from Central Africa and its two main varieties are Gorilla gorilla (Western Gorilla) and Gorilla berigei (Eastern Gorilla). The fundamental causes of its disappearance are the destruction of its habitat and hunting. However, at the beginning of the millennium, between 2004 and 2008, this species was seriously affected by the Ebola virus. The most important epidemic episode occurred in the Odzala National Park in the Congo, with hundreds of diseased specimens (the year 2004).
And how did Fatou arrived in Germany? By ship, but with a really curious story. According to the New York Times, her owner (a sailor) just ran out of money and used her as payment at a local bar. This unusual event occurred in the port of Marseille, France.
Almost human: Gorillas are in the third place among the species most similar to mankind (preceded by two varieties of chimpanzee) Thanks to their genetic code, the similarity is between 97 and 98%. Among other striking similarities, their fingerprints are also unique, they aren’t repeated between one animal and another.
Breaking the forecasts!
The life expectancy of these primates is 30 to 50 years. However, captivity has a certain level of security that has allowed some individuals to exceed that expectation. The first of them was Massa, a male gorilla from the Philadelphia Zoo. Massa died at age 54.
In addition to Fatou, there’s another female gorilla named Trudy, which resembles the birthday girl in age. She’s in the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas, where she arrived with her partner Ollie in 1988, after living in St Louis and Buffalo Zoos.
There was a third female, Vila, who lived with her family troop at San Diego Safari Park. Vila unfortunately died in January 2018, at the age of 60. Randy Riches, Mammals’ Curator at the Safari Mammal Curator said to BBC News “She will be missed by zoo members, guests, volunteers and staff,”
A Taste for Birthday, Doesn’t Hurt, Right?
Gorillas are herbivorous animals and feed on leaves, buds, and fruit. For her 61st birthday, the zoo prepared Fatou a spectacular birth cake, with the “61” made all of white rice, cream, and fruit.
The amount of sugar that the dessert had isn’t recommended for any primate. However, once a year doesn’t hurt, right? Besides, she enjoyed it completely. Let’s all cheer for her!