For Release: July 3, 2006
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083
Peper Long (202) 633-3082
National Zoo Gorilla Dies
A 34-year-old National Zoo male gorilla collapsed and died early this afternoon.
Mopie died during routine social introductions between the two groups of gorillas at the Zoo's Great Ape House. Zoo pathologists will conduct a necropsy on Mopie, as is done on all Zoo animals upon death, to determine information that may clarify the cause of death. A final pathology report may provide information on a cause of death or evidence of what may have precipitated Mopie's collapse.
Mopie was diagnosed in 1998 with fibrosing cardiomyopathya chronic disease of the heart muscle that results in its decreased ability to pump blood throughout the body. At this time, it is not yet clear the extent to which his cardiomyopathy contributed to his death. Yesterday and today he was very active and was not showing signs of illness.
Today's devastating loss comes just days after the death of Kuja, the Zoo's other adult male gorilla. Kuja, 23, died on July 1 during cardiac surgery to address his heart disease. Zoo staff was introducing Mopie to Kuja's surviving family today to begin integrating the groups.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for male gorillas in zoos. The National Zoo participates in a consortium of zoos investigating heart disease in gorillas in zoos and in the wild.
Western lowland gorillas can be found in the African tropical forests of Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria. They are listed as endangered by The World Conservation Union (IUCN). The National Zoo has three female gorillas and two juvenile males.
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