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Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Jomo has died

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

A popular gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has died. "Jomo" was 30 years old.

The Western lowland silverback had mobility issues since being diagnosed with a degenerative spinal cord condition in 2019.

He died March 11, according to an announcement from the zoo.

"This is a huge loss to the Cincinnati Zoo and his care team," writes Ashley Ashcraft, team lead in the Primate Center. "Jomo has captured the hearts of countless people over the years, including my own. It has been a great honor that I have been able to spend 14 years with the best silverback around. From the first day I spent with him until the last, Jomo had taught me so much about gorillas but also life. He will forever inspire me as I remember him as a great leader for his family and a magnificent ambassador for his species."

Jomo's health began deteriorating in 2019 when he was diagnosed with the incurable condition. He was treated with medications and a combination of laser and physical therapy to alleviate his symptoms and make him comfortable.

He spent some 16 years at the Cincinnati Zoo and sired three gorillas during his time here. He also served as a surrogate to Gladys, who came to the zoo in 2013 after being rejected by her mother.

At 400 pounds, he was the zoo's largest gorilla. A silverback is the term for the dominant male that leads a troop of gorillas.

He celebrated his 30th birthday in July 2021 with a cake made of his favorite fruits, sugar-free ice treats, yogurt, and oats.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.