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Buffalo Zoo mourns loss of male silverback gorilla, Koga


Thu, Feb 15th 2024 11:55 pm

Submitted by the Buffalo Zoo

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden passing of our male silverback western lowland gorilla, Koga, who died yesterday morning from a cardiac event.

“We are all devastated by the loss of Koga,” said Lisa Smith, president and CEO of the Buffalo Zoo. “Our staff always feel the loss of any animal that dies, but it is especially hard when it is a charismatic, intelligent, well-loved animal like Koga who was a staple of our zoo community. Koga touched the hearts of so many visitors and staff alike; he will be greatly missed.”

During his time in Buffalo, as an ambassador of his species, Koga inspired and impacted over 6 million visitors to the Zoo.

Born Aug. 14, 1987, at the Bronx Zoo, Koga was 36 years old. He lived the first seven years of his life in the Bronx Zoo before moving to the Memphis Zoo where he lived for 13 years. He came to the Buffalo Zoo in April of 2007.

While Koga’s death was unexpected, he had been under veterinary care for heart disease for many years. His age was a testament to the impressive care our animals receive here at the Buffalo Zoo. The median life expectancy for male gorillas is 32.7 years.

Koga fathered three offspring during his 17 years at the Buffalo Zoo, all a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). Two offspring, Amari (13) and Kayin (8), have recently moved to other zoos, while Nyah (10) still resides here with the Buffalo Zoo’s two other adult females, Sidney (26) and Lily (23).

Koga, a silverback gorilla, did a great job leading and protecting his family. Gorillas are highly social and complex animals that form male-led troops with multiple females.

The Buffalo Zoo’s remaining female troop will be closely monitored by its animal care staff, along with help from Canisius College’s animal behavior, ecology, and conservation program. While our team always takes great care of the animals, these animals will receive even more love and attention from their care team in the coming days. The Buffalo Zoo will work closely with AZA and the SSP to plan the next steps for the troop over the next few months.

The population of western lowland gorillas in the wild is critically endangered and has declined by over 60% in the past 25 years due to habitat loss, poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, and emerging diseases, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

To help honor Koga, the Buffalo Zoo asks the community to please share photos and memories of him to the venue’s social media pages. In lieu of flowers and other gifts that are sometimes left at exhibits, donations made to the Buffalo Zoo in Koga’s honor will be accepted and used toward gorilla care here and in the wild. Tribute gifts can be made by visiting www.buffalozoo.org/donate.

More About the Buffalo Zoo

Founded in 1875, the Buffalo Zoo is the third-oldest zoo in the U.S. Each year, the Buffalo Zoo welcomes nearly 500,000 visitors annually and is among the largest tourist attractions in Western New York. Located on 23.5 acres of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Delaware Park, the site provides interactive and educational family experiences throughout the year. With a diverse collection of wild and exotic animals and more than 320 different species of plants, visitors are introduced to and engulfed by nature each time they visit.

For more information, visit www.buffalozoo.org.

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