Louisville Zoo says goodbye to 50-year-old gorilla Demba

Posted at 1:47 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 13:48:53-04

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Louisville Zoo on Friday announced that Demba, one of its beloved western lowland gorillas, has died.

The zoo made the decision to euthanize the 50-year-old gorilla due to the progression of a heart valve infection that was diagnosed in 2013.

"Keepers and veterinary staff have been closely monitoring her as her heart disease progressed," the zoo said in a news release. "As Demba’s quality of life recently declined, staff deliberated and decided that euthanasia was the most appropriate option."

Demba was housed with Helen, the second oldest western lowland gorilla in the world and the oldest in the North American managed populations at nearly 63 years of age. The zoo said the median life expectancy of a female gorilla in managed care is about 39 years.

“Demba’s story is one we are all very proud of," said Senior Staff Veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi. “To diagnose, treat, and survive a bout of endocarditis was remarkable, and then to manage her condition in the years following is a testament to the great care provided to the animals.”

Demba was born at the Dallas Zoo in Texas, spent some time at the Philadelphia Zoo, and came to the Louisville Zoo in December of 2006.