World’s 2nd oldest gorilla dies at zoo at 64 years old

The Louisville Zoo announced one of its beloved and oldest gorillas named Helen has died.
The Louisville Zoo announced one of its beloved and oldest gorillas named Helen has died.(Louisville Zoo)
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE/Gray News) - The Louisville Zoo said one of their beloved and oldest gorillas has died.

WAVE reports Helen, also named the “Grand Dame” of the gorilla world, had been on a quality-of-life watch due to declining health before she was euthanized on Friday.

“Letting go of a special gorilla like Helen is very hard, but it is often the last, best thing we can do for our animals,” Louisville Zoo Director Dan Maloney said.

Louisville Zoo representatives said Helen enjoyed good health for most of her life and first came to the zoo in 2002 from the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Helen was born in the wild in West Africa, and the zoo estimated that she died at 64 years old.

“Helen’s exceptional longevity is not only a testament to her personal constitution but also to the outstanding care provided,” Maloney said.

According to the zoo, the average life expectancy for a female zoo gorilla is 39 years.

Only one other gorilla has outmatched Helen’s longevity. Fatou, a gorilla at Zoo Berlin, is currently 65 years old.

“Helen was one of our most beloved ambassadors. Her fascination with human babies delighted families for decades. I know our friends and members will share in her loss and miss her greatly,” Maloney said.

Helen was a mother of three, a grandmother of 17, a great-grandmother of 21, a great-great-grandmother of eight and a great-great-great-grandmother of one.

Two of Helen’s progeny, Bengatui and Kindi, remain at the Louisville Zoo.

“Helen was a legend, and she deserved the best,” Louisville Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi said. “Helen taught us much about gorillas and geriatric gorilla care.”