Columbus Zoo announces Colo the gorilla has died

POWELL, OH (WCMH) — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced Tuesday that Colo the gorilla has died.

Colo, the first gorilla born in a zoo and the matriarch of the Columbus Zoo’s famous gorilla family, died in her sleep overnight. At 60 years of age, she was the oldest gorilla on record and exceeded her normal life expectancy by more than two decades.

Colo celebrated her historic 60th birthday on December 22 surrounded by thousands of fans and with birthday wishes coming from around the world.

“At the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium our mantra is to touch the heart to teach the mind,” said President and CEO Tom Stalf. “Colo touched the hearts of generations of people who came to see her and those that cared for her over her long lifetime. She was an ambassador for gorillas and inspired people to learn more about the critically endangered species and motivated them to protect gorillas in their native habitat.”

Colo’s gorilla and animal care family spent time with her body this morning. Colo will be cremated and her ashes buried at an undisclosed location at the Columbus Zoo. Prior to cremation, the Zoo will conduct a complete postmortem examination to further define the cause of death. A malignant tumor was removed from under her arm on December 3, 2016.

“She was the coolest animal I’ve ever worked with and caring for her was the highlight of my career,” said assistant curator Audra Meinelt. “It was not just about what she meant for the gorilla community but for whom she was as a gorilla. I’m heartbroken but also grateful for the 19 years I had with Colo.”