World’s third oldest gorilla turns 59

Vila, the third oldest gorilla in the world, marked her 59th birthday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Vila, the third oldest gorilla in the world, marked her 59th birthday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

SAN DIEGO, C.A. (WNCT) – The San Diego Zoo Safari Park hosted a birthday celebration for Vila, the world’s third old gorilla.

As part of the festivities, the park was decked out with fall-themed enrichment items like pumpkins, streamers jack-o-lantern bags filled with popcorn and other edible treats.

Zoo officials believe Vila was born in October 1957, in the Congo. After being brought to the UA, she was hand-raised at the San Diego Zoo and later moved to the Safari Park, where she’s lived since 1875. Vila is the matriarch of five generations, and she has served as a surrogate mother for several hand-raised western lowland gorillas during her lifetime.

There are three other western lowland gorillas that are close in age to Vila. One lives at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio (born at the Columbus Zoo in December 1956), one at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas (estimated to have been born in 1957, arriving in the U.S. in June 1958) and one at the Berlin Zoo in Germany (estimated to have been born in 1957, arriving at the Berlin Zoo in May 1959).

Gorillas are listed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

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