SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Officials at the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens announced the passing Friday of Zura, a 39-year-old female Western lowland gorilla who was a longtime favorite for generations of Bay Area families.
According to a news release issued by the Zoo, veterinary staff had been treating Zura for long-term digestive issues that recently worsened. Zura was a popular fixture of the Zoo’s gorilla habitat since she arrived from the Columbus Zoo in 1982.
Zura was the granddaughter of Columbus Zoo’s renowned gorilla named Colo, who became the first gorilla born under human care over 60 years ago.
“Zura had a beautiful, distinctive face and a one-of-a-kind personality, and so many of our guests recognized her when they visited,” said CEO and Executive Director of San Francisco Zoological Society Tanya M. Peterson. “As one of our older females, she lived among different generations of our gorilla troop, from the great silverback, ‘Bwana’ to our gentle, contemplative silverback, ‘OJ.’ She will be missed by all of us.”
Zura lived in the SF Zoo’s Jones Family Gorilla Preserve, which was one of the first naturalistic habitats designed for gorillas when it opened in 1980. It features climbing rocks, native trees and grassy slopes.
The Zoo said that over the nearly four decades since her arrival in San Francisco, Zura served as “auntie” to many of the troop’s offspring, but did bear any offspring of her own. Zura has also been a favorite among the Zoo’s animal care staff throughout her many years.
Her passing leaves the San Francisco Zoo with a troop of four Western lowland gorillas, an adult male silverback and three adult females.