Oldest living gorilla in captivity
67 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 65 years. Estimated to have been born in the wild circa 1957, she was judged to already be at least two years old on her arrival to Berlin and so celebrated her 67th year in 2024 (the zoo has designated 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 basket of fruit and vegetables including lettuce, berries, watermelon and edible flowers. The zoo is also home to silverback Sango (19 years old), and females Mpenzi (38), Bibi (27), Djambala (22) and Tilla (3) who live in an adjoining enclosure to Fatou's in order to give the senior ape her own space.

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.

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 (making her the first gorilla born in a zoo) and died 17 January 2017 aged 60 years 26 days.

Image © 2024 Zoo Berlin