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World's Oldest Gorilla Celebrates Birthday at Columbus Zoo

Baby Colo.4

Meet Colo, the world’s oldest known Gorilla. Born December 22, 1956 at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, Colo was the first of her kind ever born at a zoo. In fact, it would be another five years until a second Lowland Gorilla was born at a zoo and a further five years for a third.

For Colo’s 56th birthday this weekend, the Columbus Zoo presented her with a specially prepared cake and presents that included her favorite food... tomatoes!  Guests joined in on the fun by singing happy birthday to her, along with the staff.

Baby Colo 1

Baby Colo.2

Now, at 56 years old, Colo has also broken the longevity record previously held by Jenny at the Dallas Zoo, who died at age 55 in 2008. And, in 1983, her grandsons were the first twin Gorillas born in the western hemisphere.


All in all, Colo is the mother of three, grandmother of 16, great grandmother of seven and great great grandmother of two! Colo had three babies, Emmy, Oscar and Toni. Emmy was the first second-generation Gorilla born in a zoo and Toni gave birth to Cora, who was the first third-generation Gorilla born in a zoo. 

Colo Adult.2

Photo Credit: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

There are currently 15 endangered Lowland Gorillas at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium including Colo, her daughter Toni, grandson Mac, granddaughter Cassie and great-granddaughter Dotty.

Sadly, life for Western Lowland Gorillas in the wild is much different than Colo’s. Habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal bushmeat trade are constant threats for this critically endangered species. The Columbus Zoo helps protect Western Lowland Gorillas in the wild, supporting conservation efforts and distributing more than $1 million annually in conservation grants worldwide.