Colo (gorilla)

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Colo, photographed March 5, 2009.

Colo (born December 22, 1956) is a western gorilla widely known as the first gorilla to be born in captivity anywhere in the world and as the oldest gorilla in captivity in the world. Colo was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to Millie Christina (mother) and Baron Macombo (father). She was briefly called Cuddles before a contest was held to officially name her. The contest was won by a Columbus native, Rita Cochren. Colo's name is derived from the place of her birth, Columbus, Ohio.


Colo's mother rejected her at birth, and she was hand-raised by the zookeepers like a human child, dressed in clothing and fed from a bottle. When she was two she was introduced to Bongo, a 19-month-old male from Africa, and on February 1, 1968, their first of three offspring was born, a female named Emmy, named by the zoo after the mayor of Columbus, M. E. "Jack" Sensenbrenner.[citation needed] The following two offspring were similarly named after awards; Oscar, born July 18, 1969, and Toni, on December 28, 1971.

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 Jontu was born. A birth at the Henry Doorly Zoo made Colo a great-great-grandmother in 2003.

Although Colo did not raise any of her own offspring, she reared her twin grandsons, Macombo II and Mosuba, from birth. Colo also acted as a guardian for her grandson, named J.J. after "Jungle" Jack Hanna with whom he shares a birthday. Since that time, there have been 12 gorilla offspring in the Columbus Zoo surrogacy program.

Colo has resided at the Columbus Zoo longer than any other animal in the zoo's collection. Colo celebrated her 50th birthday in 2006 with her keeper Gregory Moore with a chimps tea party. Colo and her progeny, four of which still reside at the Columbus Zoo, comprised almost one-third of Columbus Zoo's current gorilla collection as of 2007.

Colo is the oldest living gorilla in captivity, following the death of 55-year-old Jenny in September 2008.[1]


A statue of Colo at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Listed in order of birth (within generation)

Children (2nd generation):

  • Emmy ( February 1, 1968 – June 7, 1982)
  • Oscar ( July 18, 1969– June 29, 1993)
  • Toni ( December 28, 1971–0000)

Grandchildren (3rd generation):

Great-grandchildren (4th generation):

  • Timu (1995–0000)
  • Jontu (1997–0000)
  • Muchana (2000–2009)
  • Dotty (2004–0000)
  • Hasani (2008–0000)
  • Nadami (2010–0000)
  • Bomassa (2012–0000)[2]
  • Apollo (2012–0000)
  • Unnamed male (2013)[3]

Great-great-grandchildren (5th generation):

  • Bambio (2003–0000)
  • Baina (2005–0000)
  • Hadari (2009–0000)
Preceded by
World's oldest living Gorilla
September 4, 2008 —

External links[edit]