This week, a very special gorilla celebrated a very special birthday, and you’d better believe she had a special party to go right along with it. Colo has been a resident of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in central Ohio since her birth and she celebrated her 59th birthday on Tuesday, 22 December. She is the oldest gorilla living in captivity on Earth, and she was also the first gorilla baby to be born under human care. Combined with the fact that she is decades past the mean life expectancy, Colo has proven she is one amazing gorilla who has earned the right to party.


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The average life expectancy for female gorillas in zoos is only about 37 years, so Colo is a bit like that spry old granny who still goes out dancing on the weekends (even if it means she’s home in bed by 8PM). Although Colo does have some complications due to arthritis, zoo officials report she is in “fantastic” health. “We embrace every single birthday we have with her,” Columbus Zoo assistant curator Audra Meinelt said in a statement. “It’s not yet the big 6-0, but it’s the big 5-9! Because she is so old, every single day with her, not just her birthday, is a gift. We are lucky for every moment we get to spend with her.”

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Colo’s birthday party was live broadcast on the zoo’s website as it has been in past years. Last year, Colo’s birthday party had over 4,000 viewers, including residents of every state in America, as well as 31 other countries on 5 continents. Colo was showered with gifts, mostly enrichment toys and some tasty treats. Clementines and tomatoes are her favorite.

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Since the year Colo was born at the zoo, her family has expanded through four generations and now includes three children, 16 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren. Six of those relatives still live with her at the zoo, along with eight other gorillas. Colo became the world’s oldest gorilla in 2008, after the passing of 55-year-old Jenny, who was a resident at the Dallas Zoo in Texas.

Happy belated birthday, Colo! Here’s to many more.

Via Discovery

Images via Columbus Zoo & Aquarium and Paul and Cathy/Flickr