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Zoo News

Zoo News

Aug 31, 2011

The Dallas Zoo today announced the passing of long-time resident Timbo, Western lowland gorilla. Timbo was 49, the eldest of the Dallas Zoo’s great apes, an advanced age for a gorilla. She was the eight oldest gorilla in a North American zoo, the seventh oldest female. She underwent a medical procedure yesterday, some dental work and a follow-up to her successful 2009 cataract surgery, and failed to recover from the anesthesia. She had experienced several age-related complications in recent years according to Dallas Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Tim Storms. Gorillas have a longer life expectancy in captivity, but rarely live beyond 50 years.

Timbo achieved medical notoriety after her history-making 2009 cataract surgery performed by U.T. Southwestern Medical Center’s Dr. R. Wayne Bowman, a Dallas eye doctor with almost 30 years of ophthalmology experience.

“Timbo was a beautiful soul,” said John Fried, supervisor gorilla keepers at the Dallas Zoo. “She loved watching her visitors, especially children and babies. In 2009 we noticed that she was having a difficult time seeing. Because of the cataracts, she wasn’t recognizing her food and was easily startled by fellow gorillas in her habitat. The surgery was a serious quality of life upgrade for Timbo. In the final years of her life she could see clearly . . . her visitors, her fellow gorillas, her food.”

“Timbo was a very sweet gorilla,” said Dr. Todd Bowsher, Dallas Zoo director of animal operations. “You hear people say, about people and animals, ‘they’re spoiled rotten.’ Well, Timbo was spoiled sweet. Everybody just loved her and when people who came to see her, keepers, myself, we’d all bring her treats. All of the animals at the Zoo are living beings, and you know that losing them is an eventuality, but when it’s an animal that has been part of the Zoo for such a long time, and to a sweet girl like Timbo, it hurts.”

“Timbo passed away yesterday when she failed to recover from anesthesia. She will be greatly missed by the staff and guests,” said Dr. Lynn Kramer, deputy director for animal conservation and science.

Guests who wish to leave a message for Timbo and her keepers are welcome to leave notes in memoriam online via her photo album or in person at the Dallas Zoo’s main administration building at the entrance to ZooNorth.

With the passing of Timbo, the Dallas Zoo is left with three gorillas, bachelors Juba, nine, B’wenzi, eight, and Patrick, 20.