Haloko, the western lowland gorilla.
Haloko was the zoo's oldest gorilla, and the only one born in the wild, the zoo said in a news release. She was euthanized because of declining health that compromised her quality of life.
She had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure after a routine physical exam on Dec. 1. That condition means the heart can no longer pump enough blood through the body, and is common in western lowland gorillas, the zoo said.
"Over the past two days, the keepers noted that Haloko's condition deteriorated significantly, and Zoo veterinarians along with curatorial staff made the difficult decision to euthanize her," the news release said.
The zoo provided the following background:
Haloko came to the Zoo in December 1989 on loan from the Philadelphia Zoo after having lived at the Bronx Zoo. In 1992, she gave birth to the Zoo's only silverback, Baraka, although a different female, Mandara, in the family group raised him. Haloko's cargivers considered her to be a very complex character who was self-sufficient, patient and very tolerant of the antics of the juveniles in the group.
(Photo: National Zoo)
The Zoo's western lowland gorillas live in one group at the Great Ape House. The Zoo currently has three males and three females on exhibit, including a female baby born Jan. 10, 2009. Western lowland gorillas, which are native to tropical forests of West and Central Africa, are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation and poaching. In captivity, gorillas can live up to 56 years of age; median life expectancy is closer to 30 years of age.
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