Tumai, a 21-year-old lowland gorilla from the Memphis Zoo, died during a flight to Cleveland on Thursday. He was traveling to the Erie Zoo in Pennsylvania as part of a recommended pairing, when he stopped breathing halfway through the flight.
The results of a necropsy performed by Cleveland and Erie Zoo officials on Friday showed that Tumai died of heart disease.
Zoo veterinarians gave the 500-pound primate a physical prior to the transfer, saying he was in good health when he left the Memphis Zoo. He also had no health problems in the past. Tumai was in a pressurized, climate-controlled cabin on the plane -- a routine way to transport animals. He was slated to become a companion to a female gorilla named "Samantha" when he arrived in Erie. The Memphis Zoo has one other gorilla -- 18-year-old male "Koga" -- on exhibit in Primate Canyon.