Jabari, the 28-year-old gorilla who had just started to mate with newcomer female Kira in the hopes of starting a family at the Philadelphia Zoo, died this afternoon while under anesthesia for treatment, zoo officials announced today.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tremendous loss,” said Dr. Andy Baker, chief operating officer at the Philadelphia Zoo. “Jabari was an iconic favorite with our staff and visitors, and we expected him to be with us for many years.”
Zoo officials said Jabari, a western lowland gorilla, was exhibiting loss of appetite and mouth or throat discomfort yesterday. Veterinarians at the zoo put him under anesthesia where he stopped breathing.
Efforts to resuscitate Jabari were unsuccessful.
Jabari made headlines just last week when primate officials at the zoo said he and Kira, who came from Franklin Park Zoo in Boston down to Philadelphia to start a family in June, started mating. Kira had been introduced to the group—which included female Honi and males Louis and Kuchimba. Louis is Jabari's 11-year-old son. Kuchimba, 11, is Honi's son.
Just last week, Kristen Farley-Rambo, gorilla keeper at the Philadelphia Zoo, said the zoo family was excited for the possibility of a baby between Kira and Jabari. She called Kira a "natural mother."
According to a news release from the zoo, Jabari was born on Feb. 5, 1985, at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. He arrived to Philadelphia in July 2004 from the St. Louis Zoo.
"Jabari was one of the Zoo's most beloved animals," according to the news release.
Gorillas can live into their 50s at zoos. Officials will conduct a necropsy to determine the cause of Jabari's illness and death.