If you live in Columbus, Ohio, stop by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. A VIP is having her 58th birthday celebration today. Colo was the first gorilla born into captivity, and experts think she’s the oldest gorilla in captivity.
Personally, I say we give her the honor anyways. And zookeepers? Don’t stack presents together. It may be close to Christmas, but 58 years deserves separate gifts. This is the second year in a row that birthday celebrations will be streamed for a worldwide audience.
Patty Peters, a zoo spokesperson said last year’s stream was watched by people on every continent except Antarctica. Come on Antarctica, make 58 special and watch Colo rip apart the cake.
Colo’s life span has been remarkable. Western lowland gorillas have a median age of 37 years for females. In the wild, western lowland gorillas are critically endangered.
Audra Meinelt, assistant curator of the zoo’s Congo exhibit, spoke to the Columbus Dispatch on Colo’s birthday. “She knows the whole day is about her. She’ll get a cake, and she’ll get presents to open — wrapped boxes with a few extra treats like mixed nuts and clementines.”
Colo’s birth was covered in Time and Life magazine. The birth in captivity spurred healthy captive-breeding programs for lowland gorillas. She has given birth to three children, had sixteen grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and is great-great grandmother three times.
Her remarkable vitality was after she survived tuberculosis at age six, when doctors predicted she had as little as three months to live. She has outlived two of her children, nine grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Colo’s age means she has essentially retired to a life of solitude. For the past ten years, she has removed herself from the group-dynamic, content to live with visitors here and there.
She stays near other gorilla groups, and her daughter Toni pops by for days at a time.
Pop over to the Columbus Zoo site to watch live feeds of the birthday celebration. Kids that don’t live near zoos will love the livestream.
IMG Credit: Columbus Zoo / Colo Birthday Celebration