Samantha the Gorilla, the Oldest Lived Animal at the Cincinnati Zoo, Has Passed Away

The zoo celebrated Samantha's 50th birthday in January

click to enlarge Samantha the Gorilla - Photo: Cincinnati Zoo
Photo: Cincinnati Zoo
Samantha the Gorilla

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced on Monday, March 30 that the community's beloved Samantha the Gorilla has passed away.

Samantha was the oldest mammal at the Cincinnati Zoo, and celebrated her 50th birthday in January. The team at the zoo made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Samantha on Sunday morning. 

“We have been treating Samantha’s aging heart for over a year, which has allowed her to enjoy a great quality of life,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s curator of primates, Ron Evans, in a press release. “We recognized recently that medications just could not keep up with her advancing condition and had to make the tough decision. Fortunately, she did not appear to be suffering as much as simply losing energy and fading away towards the end with her family around her. The gorilla team’s attentions have now shifted fully to her foster daughter, Elle, who is doing well with her father, Jomo, and sister, Mona.” 

Samantha was born at the Cincinnati Zoo and was hand-raised with the assistance of Good Samaritan Hospital. She was one of 50 gorillas that have been born at the zoo, and also the longest-lived animal ever born there. Samantha was the sixth oldest out of the more than 360 gorillas in North America.

“I have been privileged to be part of Samantha’s world for 35 of her 50 years,” said Evans.

“She is an inspirational individual and a great example of why we work as hard as we do around here," he continued. "She was our boss. The keepers who care for her are also inspirational and even during these challenging days, had laser focus on her wellbeing and went out of their way to see her final days through with expert care and deep compassion. They are my heroes.   Right now, it is impossible to imagine that Samantha won’t be around anymore, but we are very lucky we have her amazing 50-year legacy to dwell on and celebrate.”

Samantha lived with over 40 different gorillas over the past half a century and has made a deep impact on zoo team members, guests and followers during her time there. “People share Samantha memories with us all the time, and we love listening to every one," said Evans. 

Samantha was a western lowland gorilla, an endangered species with less than 175,000 individuals still found in the wild, according to the zoo.

"Due primarily to habitat destruction caused by logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, wild gorilla numbers continue to shrink. The bushmeat trade — the killing of wild animals to be used as human food — is also a major threat to the western lowland gorilla population throughout the Central African rainforests," the zoo says. 

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens supports and contributes to wild gorilla conservation efforts that help to raise awareness about the issue with local programs, documentaries and research.

For more info or to donate to the zoo, visit cincinnatizoo.org.