Akbar, the patriarch of one of two gorilla family groups at the Toledo Zoo, is dead.
Zoo staff euthanized the ailing, 29-year-old silverback gorilla yesterday after his health, compromised by severe progressive heart disease, "took a significant turn for the worse" over the weekend, a zoo announcement said.
Akbar, who lived at the zoo for 20 years, was diagnosed in August with heart disease, which is the leading killer of captive gorillas. The average lifespan of a captive male gorilla is about 35 years.
Preliminary necropsy findings confirmed extensive disease and congestive heart failure. Echocardiograms had been used for the initial diagnosis four months ago. On Sunday, keepers observed that Akbar was extremely lethargic and had difficulty getting up.
"We knew that Akbar's condition would get progressively worse," Dr. Wynona Shellabarger, the zoo's acting chief veterinarian, said. "Our goal with treatment was to slow this progression and improve his heart function as much as possible to make him comfortable. The decision to euthanize was heart-wrenching for all of us, but it became apparent that he was now suffering and that his quality of life had greatly diminished."
Akbar headed a family group that included three other adults and two juveniles he sired. Overall, he fathered seven gorillas at the zoo. A second family group of five gorillas also lives at the zoo.