Happy 60th birthday, Ozzie!
Father’s Day brings a major milestone for one of the most treasured members of the Zoo Atlanta population. At 60, Ozzie the western lowland gorilla is the world’s oldest living male gorilla and the oldest male gorilla on record. The gorilla patriarch celebrated with a multi-tiered ice “cake” filled with frozen fruits and topped with the number 60.
One of the original pioneers of the Zoo’s landmark Ford African Rain Forest, Ozzie has more than 20 descendants, including children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, living at Zoo Atlanta and at other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos.
Ozzie has made lasting contributions to the future of his species in his years at Zoo Atlanta. Now classified as critically endangered, western lowland gorilla populations have declined dramatically since Ozzie’s youth. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, the combined threats of poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, habitat loss and disease have reduced their numbers by 60 percent, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa. Gorilla populations at accredited zoos in North America are overseen by the AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which seeks to maintain self-sustaining, genetically diverse animal populations for future generations.
Gorillas are considered geriatric after the age of 40. Ozzie shares his habitat with females Choomba (58), Machi (45), and Kuchi (36), in areas specifically configured for the needs of senior gorillas.
Learn more about the gorilla program at Zoo Atlanta at zooatlanta.org.