One of a Midland zoo’s first gorillas, which became a favourite of children and adults over four decades, has died.
Joe, a 45-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla, died on Sunday at Twycross Zoo, near Tamworth, following a short illness.
The primate, weighing 32st (203kg), became one of the first gorillas to live at the zoo in July 1965 when he was just 18 months old.
Keepers were today mourning the loss of the animal after more than four decades.
Kim Riley, of Twycross Zoo, said: “Joe was a founder member of Twycross Zoo and was the first of many gorillas in the era when it was still common for lions, tigers, bears and great apes to be on sale in pet shops.
“From this time of arrival, Joe became part of the Twycross family and has seen huge changes in the way zoos keep and care for apes and their shift to their conservation focus.
“Gorillas are very intelligent and can recognise their keepers and regular visitors. Joe was no exception to this and he would sit by his window to watch his admirers as they came to visit.”
Keepers gave Joe four pints of tea, with milk and no sugar, every morning – and his favourite treat of a yoghurt drink.
Gorillas, the largest of the Great Apes, are peaceful and rarely show aggression.