The Grand Dame of the Zoo turns 58!

Gorilla Dame Fatou celebrates her birthday.

Fatou mostly sits with her back leaning against a tree trunk and is left to observe the colourful goings-on around her. The lady gorilla prefers to act as the silent observer than be right in the midst of things. Fatou is the second oldest western lowland gorilla in the world. The oldest gorilla is the 58-year-old Colo, who lives in Columbus Zoo in Ohio, USA. She was born on 22.12.1956 and is just under four months older than Fatou, who celebrates her 58th birthday in Zoo Berlin on 13 April.
Born in West Africa in 1957, Fatou arrived in the port city of Marseilles as a young infant in the luggage of a French sailor. When he wasn't able to pay his bill at one of the port taverns, he handed over Fatou to the landlady, and from there she eventually ended up in Zoo Berlin in May of 1959 as a little gorilla. Fatou has now been living in the great apes section of Zoo Berlin for 56 years now. In 1974 she gave birth to the first gorilla to be born in Berlin, named Dufte, who sadly died on 13 Dec. 2001 due to a chronic inflammation of the uterus. Fatou's granddaughter, 29-year-old M’penzi, still lives next to her grandmother in the Gorilla complex today. As the old lady of the complex, Fatou now finds the hype in the gorilla group just a bit too much for her. She has now had her own enclosure since 2010, enjoying the intensive supervision of her carers. Particularly hard vegetables such as carrots and celery, swede and beetroot are precooked for the toothless old dame.


'We are very proud to have been able to accommodate an animal with us now for more than half a century.' 'We are pleased that Fatou is in such good health despite her age. The old lady of the group even contributes to the conservation of this critically endangered species by helping out a younger animal,' says Zoo and Tierpark director Dr Andreas Knieriem.
Poaching, diseases such as Ebola, and the ongoing destruction of the habitat of gorillas in the last 20 to 25 years alone in the wild has led to a dramatic decline in this species by about 60 %. Gorillas have thus become a key species for endangered animals.


A total of five western lowland gorillas live in Zoo Berlin: Fatou (58), M`penzi (28), Ivo (27), Bibi (18) and Djambala (13).

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