FILE – In this Dec. 15, 2016 file photo, Colo, a western lowland gorilla, rests in her enclosure at the Columbus Zoo, in Columbus, Ohio.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – She is a mother of three children, grandmother of 16, great grandmother of 12 and great-great-grandmother of three. She recently had surgery to remove a malignant tumor, but the doctors say that they do it well.
They Colo, the nation’s oldest living gorilla, and they run 60 on Thursday at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Colo is the first gorilla in the world born in a zoo and has surpassed the normal life expectancy of gorillas in captivity by two decades. Her life expectancy is placing a spotlight on the medical care, nutrition and up-to-date therapeutic techniques that help prolong of animals in zoos live.
“Colo only embodies the progress that the zoos have made, going all the way back to her birth in Columbus,” said Dr. Tom Meehan, vice-president for veterinary services at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo and veterinary advisor for a national gorilla species survival plan.
The changes also mean more animals with the normal aches and pains of aging. Today, zoo veterinarians regularly treat animals for heart and kidney disease, arthritis, dental problems and cancer.
Colo is one of the many elderly gorillas in the entire country. The oldest known living male gorilla, Ozzie, is 55 years old and lives in the Atlanta Zoo, which has a geriatric gorilla specialty.
In Seattle, the Woodland Park Zoo, the staff can make use of acupuncture, massage, laser therapy, and heat and joint supplements to help Emma, a 13-year-old rabbit.
In the National Zoo in Washington, Shanthi, a 42-year-old Asian elephant with arthritis, receiving osteoarthritis therapy and was recently fitted with specially manufactured front foot boots to help her feet heal, if medicines are applied.
In Oakland, California, Tiki, a 27-year-old giraffe and is one of the oldest in the country, get pedicures, massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic with traditional veterinary medicine. Gao Gao, a 26-year-old male panda in San Diego Zoo with a heart condition, regularly undergoing cardiac echoes.
Geriatrics is probably one of our most common medical challenges that we face in a zoo situation,” said Dr. Keith Hinshaw, director of the health of animals in the Philadelphia Zoo. “Just about everything that you would think would happen with an older person will succeed eventually with an animal.”
That is to medication: JJ, a 45-year-old orangutan at the Toledo Zoo, is in the human heart medications carvedilol, and Lisinopril, together with pain and orthopedic medicine. He also takes Metamucil.
Colo, a western lowland gorilla, holds several other records. On her 56th birthday in 2012, they exceeded the record for the longest service life gorilla. On Thursday, she exceeds the median life expectancy for female gorillas in human care (37.5 years) with more than two decades.
Other age-defying zoo animals:
Coldilocks, a 36-year-old polar bear at the Philadelphia Zoo and is considered to be the oldest polar bear in the U.S. The bears’ typical life span in captivity is 23 years. The zoo says that the treatment of asked her for kidney disease appears to have helped to prolong her life.
Elly, an eastern black rhinoceros at the San Francisco Zoo, an estimated 46 years old, is the oldest of its kind in North America. She has had 14 calves, and her offspring have produced 15 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild.
Packy, an Asian elephant at the Oregon Zoo, and 54, the oldest male of its kind in North America. The zoo says Packy, born in 1962, was the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years.
Nikko, a 33-year-old snow monkey at the Minnesota Zoo, the oldest male snow monkey in North America.
Little Mama, a chimpanzee living at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, Florida, with an estimated age in her late 70s. She takes allergy medications, iron supplements and omega-3-multi-vitamin, and is trained to accept a nebulizer treatment for cough.
Emerson, a Galapagos tortoise at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio, whose age is estimated to be about 100.