Sadly, the Zoo reports that its 44-year-old Western lowland gorilla, the gray-haired Haloko, died today after suffering from congestive heart failure. She was euthanized once Zoo officials determined that her quality of life was declining.
Haloko has been a fixture at the facility since 1989, after arriving from the Bronx Zoo. She was the Zoo's only wild-born gorilla, having been born in July of 1967. In 1992, she gave birth to Baraka, but allowed another female to raise her baby. Mandara—who keepers call "Super Mom" because she has delivered six baby gorillas—took over the maternal obligations just a few hours after the birth.
Because of her age, Haloko was often observed moving more slowly than the other gorillas in the group, while hanging out at the perimeters, quietly watching the younger gorillas play.
In December after the congestive heart failure was diagnosed, veterinarians working with cardiologists began a drug therapy to help the heart pump blood more efficiently to the body. But her activity declined and the keepers noticed that the animal's chest, limbs and abdomen were swelling. Two days ago, Haloko's condition worsened and the decision was made to euthanize her. Her keepers report that she was a "sweet gorilla," who was "quiet, contemplative and deliberate in her actions."
The critically endangered Western lowland gorillas are native to tropical forests in West and Central Africa where the species is threatened by the fragmentation and loss of their habitat, as well as poaching. The Zoo currently has three males, Baraka, Kwame and Kojo, and three females, Mandara, Kigali and the two-year-old Kibibi.