Lifestyle & Human Interest

One of the Oldest Gorillas in the World Dies at Age 56


When news breaks of the death of a beloved zoo animal, hearts instantly break for the beautiful creatures that have given us so many memories.

Nearly one year ago, the world’s oldest gorilla, Colo, passed away at age 60. Colo was “an ambassador for gorillas and inspired people to learn more about the critically endangered species,” said Tom Stalf, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo.

Now, another gorilla has passed away, believed to be one of the world’s oldest at age 56. And hearts are once again broken.

On Jan. 7, 2018, staff at the Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire England found Nico the gorilla dead.

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The park said in an official statement that Nico passed away in his sleep overnight. Although Nico was believed to be 56, there was a likelihood he could have actually been older.

The gorilla moved from Switzerland in the 1980s and spent the majority of his life at the park. Nico lived on in an island in the middle of a lake at Longleat, complete with a house that had heat and a television.

His main keeper had actually been working with him since 1989. The two had formed a close bond over the years.

It’s to be celebrated that Nico was able to live a long and happy life. Many feared what would become of him after he lost his partner, Samba, 10 years ago.

The loss is actually what prompted staff to give him a television. It helped to cheer the whimpering gorilla, who grew to enjoy The Simpsons and even Planet of the Apes.

Since posting about Nico’s passing, park goers have been sharing their own photos and memories of time spent with the beloved gorilla.

“…he’s the reason for many many visits,” wrote Sarah Kitcher. “Reunited with his lady Samba. RIP big fella.”

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“As regulars as Longeat we loved seeing Nico and will miss him terribly,” added Clare Baxter. “Our sincere condolences to all his team, they can only draw strength from knowing the wonderful life and love they gave the big guy.”

“Actually shed a tear when read this out to my family. We’ve seen Nico few times when enjoying the Longleat boat ride,” wrote Natalie Mills.

“What a magnificent animal and we pass our condolences to the Longleat team.”

The staff, and especially Nico’s keepers, posted on Jan. 9 how grateful and blown away they were by all the outpouring of love for Nico.

Our thoughts are with the staff during this difficult time.

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Keeley is a former contributor to The Western Journal.
Keeley is a former contributor to The Western Journal.