Colo (gorilla)

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Colo, photographed March 5, 2009
SpeciesWestern lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
Born(1956-12-22)December 22, 1956
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Powell in Liberty Township, Delaware County, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJanuary 17, 2017(2017-01-17) (aged 60)
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Powell in Liberty Township, Delaware County, Ohio, U.S.
Known forFirst gorilla born in captivity and oldest gorilla in captivity

Colo (December 22, 1956 – January 17, 2017) was a western gorilla widely known as the first gorilla to be born in captivity anywhere in the world and as the oldest known gorilla in the world.[1][2][3][4] Colo was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to Millie Christina (mother) and Baron Macombo (father), and lived there for her entire life. She was briefly called Cuddles before a contest was held to officially name her. (Mrs. Howard Brannon of Zanesville, Ohio, won the contest.)[5] Colo's name was derived from the place of her birth, Columbus, Ohio.[6]


As she was rejected at birth by her mother, zookeepers had to hand-raise Colo. They hand-raised her much like a human child, by dressing her in clothes and giving her bottles of formula.[7] At the age of two years, Colo was introduced to a 19-month-old male from Africa called Bongo. Colo and Bongo had three offspring, the first on February 1, 1968, Emmy, a female. Colo and Bongo had two more offspring: Oscar, born July 18, 1969, and Toni, on December 28, 1971.[8]

On April 25, 1979, Columbus Zoo had its first third generation birth. The infant was named Cora, short for Central Ohio Rare Ape. On January 27, 1997, Colo's great-grandson Jantu was born. A birth at the Henry Doorly Zoo made Colo a great-great-grandmother in 2003.[9]

Although Colo did not raise any of her own offspring, she reared her twin grandsons, Macombo II and Mosuba, from birth.[10] Colo also acted as a guardian for her grandson, named J.J. after "Jungle" Jack Hanna with whom he shares a birthday.[11]

Colo resided at the Columbus Zoo longer than any other animal in the zoo's collection. She celebrated her 50th birthday in 2006 with her keeper Gregory Moore with a chimps' tea party. Colo and her progeny, five of which still reside at the Columbus Zoo, comprised about one-third of Columbus Zoo's gorilla collection of 17 as of 2015.[12]

Colo was the oldest living gorilla in captivity, following the death of 55-year-old Jenny in September 2008.[13] Colo celebrated her 60th birthday on 22 December 2016.[6] The Columbus Zoo announced that Colo died in her sleep on January 17, 2017.[14]


Colo was a mother to three, a grandmother to 16, a great-grandmother to 12, and a great-great-grandmother to three.[15]

See also[edit]

Oldest apes#Gorillas


  1. ^ "Colo, the oldest gorilla in captivity, dies aged 60". BBC News. January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  2. ^ James L. Newman (5 July 2013). Encountering Gorillas: A Chronicle of Discovery, Exploitation, Understanding, and Survival. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 125–8. ISBN 978-1-4422-1957-1.
  3. ^ Lyttle, Jeff (1997). Gorillas in Our Midst: The Story of the Columbus Zoo Gorillas. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press. ISBN 9780814207666.
  4. ^ Jesse Donahue; Erik Trump (2007). Political Animals: Public Art in American Zoos and Aquariums. Lexington Books. pp. 99–102. ISBN 978-0-7391-1120-8.
  5. ^ Colo’s Story: The Life of One Grand Gorilla by Nancy Roe Pimm ISBN 978-0-9841554-4-6
  6. ^ a b "Columbus Zoo – Colo's Birthday!".
  7. ^ "World's Oldest Gorilla Celebrates Birthday at Columbus Zoo".
  8. ^ "Columbus — Gorilla Genealogy – Charts & Family Trees for Gorillas in Captivity".
  9. ^ al.], editor-in-chief Bernhard Grzimek. [Vol. 10]. [Mammals 1] / [edited by Walter Fiedler ... et (1984). Grzimek's Animal life encyclopedia (English ed.). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 540. ISBN 9780442230449.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Nancy Roe Pimm (1 January 2011). Colo's Story: The Life of One Grand Gorilla. Lerner Publishing Group. pp. 41–2. ISBN 978-0-9841554-4-6.
  11. ^ "Gorilla Family – Columbus".
  12. ^ "55-year-old gorilla dies at Dallas Zoo". Associated Press. Fort Worth Star Telegram. 2008-09-06. Retrieved 2008-09-28.[dead link]
  13. ^ "Columbus Zoo Announces the Death of Colo, World's Oldest Zoo Gorilla".
  14. ^ Schmidt, Samantha (January 18, 2017). "Thousands mourn the death of Colo, the world's oldest zoo gorilla". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 18, 2017.

External links[edit]