The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's Jomo the gorilla celebrated a big birthday on July 16.
The male silverback turned 30 and enjoyed a birthday cake and birthday banner as he partied with his troop.
The Cincinnati Zoo’s head gorilla keeper Ashley Ashcraft says Jomo's cake was made with his favorite fruits, sugar-free ice treats, yogurt and oats.
Jomo has fathered three gorillas in his 16 years with the Cincinnati Zoo — Bakari, a male, who lives in Oklahoma, and his two daughters, Mona and Elle, who are with him in Cincinnati. The zoo also says Jomo has been a surrogate father to 8-year-old gorilla Gladys since she was a baby.
"Jomo is a big gorilla. He weighs about 400 pounds, which is twice as much as the adult females in his group," reads a release from the zoo. "His size helps him continue to perform his silverback duties, which include protecting and leading the troop. According to his keepers, he is also a big softie when it comes to the kids."
Keeper Ashcraft says he is especially close to daughter Mona.
Although 30 is not old for a gorilla in captivity, where they can live up to 50 years, Jomo does have some special health issues. He has an incurable degenerative spinal cord condition and mobility issues for which he undergoes regular physical therapy, laser therapy and takes medication.
“As his condition progresses, and we don’t know the timeline for that, visitors may notice more labored walking and other physical changes," Ashcraft says. "Just know that we are taking great care of him and monitoring his health.”
In addition to providing ongoing care for Jomo, the Cincinnati Zoo is also slated to get a special SARS-COV-2 vaccine for its animals. The first zoo residents to receive the vaccine will be those who have been found to be more susceptible to the virus, including big cats, gorillas and other mammals who have close interactions with humans, according to the zoo.
Zoo visitors can see Jomo in Gorilla World, along with the rest of the western lowland gorilla troop.
The Cincinnati Zoo has been helping to protect the critically endangered western lowland gorilla for more than 20 years by supporting conservation in the Republic of Congo.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is located at 3400 Vine St., Avondale. More info and tickets: cincinnatizoo.org.
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