CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Zoo’s oldest mammal and matriarch of the gorillas died on Sunday at the age of 50.
Samantha was euthanized on Sunday as it had become apparent that age-related health issues were affecting her quality of life, according to spokeswoman Michelle Curley.
Samantha had exceeded the life expectancy for her species by more than a decade. She was the sixth-oldest of more than 360 animals in the North American gorilla population.
She and another gorilla, Sam, were born about a week apart and were the first two gorilla babies born and raised at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Curator of primates Ron Evans said crews had been treating Samantha’s heart for over a year.
“We recognized recently that medications just could not keep up with her advancing condition and had to make the tough decision,” Evans said. “Fortunately, she did not appear to be suffering as much as simply losing energy and fading away towards the end with her family around her.”
The team said Samantha’s foster daughter, Elle, is doing well with her father, Jomo, and sister Mona.
Evans, who worked with Samantha for 35 years, said she was an inspirational individual and that she was the “boss.”
“The keepers who care for her are also inspirational and even during these challenging days, had laser focus on her wellbeing and went out of their way to see her final days through with expert care and deep compassion,” Evans said. “They are my heroes.
“Right now, it is impossible to imagine that Samantha won’t be around anymore, but we are very lucky we have her amazing 50-year legacy to dwell on and celebrate.”
The zoo recently paid tribute to Samatha with a 50th birthday celebration. The great grandmother shared a cake made of her favorite foods with the rest of her family.
Samantha lived with more than 40 gorillas in her lifetime and has a large, extended gorilla family throughout North America.