Oldest living gorilla in captivity
65 year(s):day(s)
Germany (Berlin)

A western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) named Fatou has been a resident at Zoo Berlin in Germany since May 1959 – a total of 63 years. Estimated to have been born in the wild c. 1957, she was judged to already be two years old on her arrival to Berlin and so celebrated her 65th year in 2022 (the zoo has allocated 13 April as her birthday). The typical life expectancy of gorillas in captivity is between 40 and 50 years old.

The senior ape saw in her birthday with a rice cake decorated with peach slices, blueberries and raspberries, and served on a bed of greens. District Manager of Zoo Berlin, Christian Aust, commented: "For her exceptionally old age, Fatou is a very vigorous old lady with a healthy appetite. We are happy every day that she is with us and hope to be able to celebrate a few more birthdays with her." Fatou currently shares her enclosure with silverback Sango (17 years old), and females Mpenzi (36), Bibi (25), Djambala (20) and Tilla (1).

Fatou was found in the wild in western Africa and brought to Marseilles, France, in 1959 by a sailor, who used the young gorilla as payment to settle his account at a local tavern. Acquired by French animal trader Mme Lefevre, she was then purchased by Zoo Berlin in 1959.

Until recently, Fatou had been one of two contenders for the title of oldest gorilla, along with another western lowland gorilla called Trudy (estimated b. June 1956) who lived at Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas, USA. Sadly, Trudy passed away on 23 July 2019, leaving Fatou as the outright record holder.

The capture of wild animals for zoos is no longer considered acceptable by the zoological community, with the vast majority of animals born within captivity or transferred between facilities for breeding programmes.

The oldest gorilla that can be aged precisely was Colo, who was born in Columbus Zoo, Ohio, USA, on 22 December 1956 (the first gorilla born in a zoo) and died 17 January 2017 aged 60 years 26 days.

© 2022 Zoo Berlin