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Jabari, the Philadelphia Zoo’s 28-year-old Male Western Lowland Gorilla, Dies

PHILADELPHIA, PA (August 9, 2013) - The Philadelphia Zoo today announced that Jabari, a 28-year-old male western lowland gorilla, died this afternoon while under anesthesia. The Zoo’s veterinary team decided to conduct a full examination of Jabari after he exhibited appetite loss and signs of mouth or throat discomfort beginning yesterday. Once under anesthesia, he stopped breathing and resuscitation attempts were not successful. The Zoo is currently conducting a necropsy to determine the cause of his illness and death. 

Jabari was born at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago on February 5, 1985, and arrived in Philadelphia from the St. Louis Zoo on July 13, 2004. The group Jabari resided with most recently included Honi, an 18-year-old female, and Kira, a 14-year-old female.

During his nine years in Philadelphia, Jabari was one of the Zoo’s most beloved animals and the largest animal in PECO Primate Reserve. Most recently, he garnered attention for his potential to breed with Kira, and father the first gorilla born at the Zoo in many years. Kira arrived in Philadelphia from Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo on June 10, 2013.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tremendous loss,” says 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.”

The Philadelphia Zoo is home to four other western lowland gorillas. Females Kira and Honi were part of Jabari’s group. A second “bachelor group”, includes 14-year-old male, Louis, who is Jabari’s son, and 11-year-old male Kuchimba, who is Honi’s son. Gorillas may live as long as 50 years in zoos, with a more typical lifespan in the mid-30’s. The Philadelphia Zoo's Massa held the longevity record of 54 years at the time of his death in 1984.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species.

America's first zoo and one of the region's foremost conservation organizations, the Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. By connecting people with wildlife, the Philadelphia Zoo creates joyful discovery and inspires action for animals and habitats. The Philadelphia region’s leading family destination, the Zoo welcomed more than 1.2 million visitors last year. The Philadelphia Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To become a member, donate or to purchase tickets please visit