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Second-oldest gorilla dies at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

One of the world’s oldest gorillas has died at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The park announced on Twitter that Vila, who turned 60 in October, died on Thursday surrounded by members of her family troop.

Authorities say she was the matriarch of five generations of gorillas and during her life served as a surrogate mother for several western lowland gorillas.

Vila was believed to be the second oldest gorilla in the world, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. 

One of the world’s oldest gorillas has died at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Vila (pictured in an undated photo), who turned 60 in October, died on Thursday surrounded by members of her family troop, the park said

Authorities say Vila (pictured, in an undated photo) was the matriarch of five generations of gorillas and during her life served as a surrogate mother for several western lowland gorillas

Authorities say Vila (pictured, in an undated photo) was the matriarch of five generations of gorillas and during her life served as a surrogate mother for several western lowland gorillas

Over the past 15 years, there has been a sharp decline in gorilla numbers, according to the San Diego Zoo, with almost half of the entire eastern gorilla species population believed to have been wiped out

Over the past 15 years, there has been a sharp decline in gorilla numbers, according to the San Diego Zoo, with almost half of the entire eastern gorilla species population believed to have been wiped out

‘Vila touched many people throughout her lifetime,’ Randy Rieches, curator of mammals at Safari Park, said in a statement. ‘She will be missed by Zoo members, guests, volunteers and staff.’ 

Several Twitter users reacted with sadness to the news of the western lowland gorilla’s passing.

‘My wife and I saw her last weekend. So sad that she’s gone now,’ tweeted one user.

‘Oh. I am so sad. I will miss her. [S]he was such a grand dame…’ wrote another. 

One user wrote: ‘I’m so heartbroken to hear this news! But I’m so glad she had the life that she did. She reached the heart of so many who will carry on the fight against the extinction of these amazing creatures.’ 

Several Twitter users reacted with sadness to the news of the western lowland gorilla's passing

Several Twitter users reacted with sadness to the news of the western lowland gorilla’s passing

Vila had arthritis and other health conditions related to her age and had been under veterinary care.  

Last year, she had undergone a medical treatment for fluid retention in her face and limbs but eventually recovered, reported The Union-Tribune.

The procedure included a full diagnostic exam to determine the cause of the fluid accumulation, which officials at the time said could have led to a life-threatening condition.

Doctors also were concerned about the effects of anesthesia on the aging animal but said at the time that the procedure went well.

Vila (pictured on her 54th birthday, November 2011) was believed to be the second oldest gorilla in the world, with gorillas typically living between 35 and 40 years old

Vila (pictured on her 54th birthday, November 2011) was believed to be the second oldest gorilla in the world, with gorillas typically living between 35 and 40 years old

Vila (pictured, on her 57th birthday, November 2014) was believed to have been born in the Congo in October 1957. She was hand-raised at the San Diego Zoo after arriving in 1959 and later moved to the Safari Park in 1975

Vila (pictured, on her 57th birthday, November 2014) was believed to have been born in the Congo in October 1957. She was hand-raised at the San Diego Zoo after arriving in 1959 and later moved to the Safari Park in 1975

Vila (pictured, on her 59th birthday, October 2016) had arthritis and other health conditions related to her age and had been under veterinary care

Vila (pictured, on her 59th birthday, October 2016) had arthritis and other health conditions related to her age and had been under veterinary care

Vila was believed to have been born in the Congo in October 1957. She was hand-raised at the San Diego Zoo after arriving in 1959 and later moved to the Safari Park in 1975.

Before coming to the United States, Vila had been housed at the Brazzaville Zoo in the Congo where the San Diego Zoo’s then-assistant managing director, Charles Shaw, discovered the infant during an around-the-world scouting trip for animals.

Gorillas typically live to be between 35 and 40 years old. They are listed as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because of disease, hunting, war and habitat loss due to logging and mining.

Over the past 15 years, there has been a sharp decline in gorilla numbers, according to the San Diego Zoo, with almost half of the entire eastern gorilla species population believed to have been wiped out.

Last year, Vila (pictured, in an undated photo) had undergone a medical treatment for fluid retention in her face and limbs but eventually recovered

Last year, Vila (pictured, in an undated photo) had undergone a medical treatment for fluid retention in her face and limbs but eventually recovered

The procedure included a full diagnostic exam to determine the cause of the fluid accumulation, which officials at the time said could have led to a life-threatening condition (Pictured, Vila gives baby Monroe a lift, March 2013)

The procedure included a full diagnostic exam to determine the cause of the fluid accumulation, which officials at the time said could have led to a life-threatening condition (Pictured, Vila gives baby Monroe a lift, March 2013)

 



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