Friday, January 14, 2005

Zoo holds brief wake after euthanizing Omega the gorilla

They held a wake at the Buffalo Zoo this week for Omega, the 40ish male gorilla who had fathered several offspring but who had been in declining health.
Omega's two mates took his loss very well, but one of his offspring took it hard and tried to wake him up.

One of the last remaining gorillas in North America not born in captivity, the 350-pound Omega had to be euthanized earlier this week after reigning for 23 years as star of the zoo's gorilla breeding program.

"After the animal was euthanized," Zoo President Donna M. Fernandes said, "we let the other animals in that had shared the same group with him."

His two mates were led in with their progeny - Kwizera, with young Sidney, and Becky, with 4-year-old Lily.

"The adults were pretty calm about it," Fernandes said. "They walked over, sniffed and sort of touched him a little bit to see if they could get him to move. The one who seemed most reluctant to accept that he was dead was the youngest one, Lily, who was lying on top of his stomach and brushing his belly. She just didn't want to leave him."

The wake lasted just a few minutes. Then they shifted the adult females into a holding cage so they could take Omega's body away for a necropsy.

Story here.

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