Celebrate the world’s oldest living male gorilla on Father’s Day
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Birthday festivities for the legendary silverback will be a highlight of Father’s Day this year
ATLANTA – June 12, 2014 – Father’s Day will be an especially memorable event at Zoo Atlanta this year, as friends and fans are invited to join a birthday celebration for a beloved Zoo patriarch and living legend. Ozzie the western lowland gorilla, who turns 53 in 2014, is the world’s oldest living male member of his species.
The silverback was part of an original group of gorillas who arrived at the Zoo on loan from Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center in the late 1980s. His many descendants, living at Zoo Atlanta and at other accredited zoos around the U.S., include 10 surviving children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“We celebrate all of our human and animal fathers and families on Father’s Day, but it’s especially important to recognize Ozzie. His longevity is certainly impressive, but his legacy at Zoo Atlanta and in the zoological community is even more so,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “As a true pioneer of our Ford African Rain Forest, he’s a piece of living history who represents the evolution of our gorilla program, from very humble origins to international leadership. His contributions are indelible and invaluable.”
Zoo Atlanta is now home to the nation’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas, and Zoo Atlanta staff has produced more than 75 published papers on the species’ behavior and biology. The Zoo is currently hosting the International Gorilla Workshop, with more than 160 animal care professionals, veterinarians, researchers and conservationists from around the world on Zoo grounds through June 13.
Born in the wild in Africa circa 1961, Ozzie is one of only three surviving male gorillas worldwide known to have been born in 1963 or earlier. Zoo Atlanta is also home to two female members of this short list: Shamba, born in 1959, and Choomba, born in 1963. Ozzie, Choomba and Shamba can be seen on exhibit in The Ford African Rain Forest, where they share a habitat equipped for the needs of senior gorillas. Gorillas are considered geriatric after the age of about 35.
Human fathers are invited to enjoy Father’s Day festivities with a special discount. On Sunday, June 15, fathers enjoy free admission with purchase of any regularly-priced child’s or adult’s general admission ticket. The discount is valid only on June 15, 2014, and is not valid with any other promotion.
Ozzie’s birthday celebration will take place at 10:30 a.m. at Gorilla Habitat Two in The Ford African Rain Forest. Father’s Day enrichment is also planned for animal dads throughout the Zoo; visit zooatlanta.org for more information, or check the Zoo map for listings.