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Colo (December 22, 1956 – January 17, 2017) was a western gorilla widely known as the first gorilla to be born in captivity anywhere in the world and as the oldest known gorilla in the world.[1][2][3][4] Colo was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to Millie Christina (mother) and Baron Macombo (father), and lived there for her entire life. She was briefly called Cuddles before a contest was held to officially name her. (Mrs. Howard Brannon of Zanesville, Ohio, won the contest.)[5] Colo's name was derived from the place of her birth, Columbus, Ohio.[6]

Colo, photographed March 5, 2009
SpeciesWestern lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
Born(1956-12-22)December 22, 1956
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Powell in Liberty Township, Delaware County, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJanuary 17, 2017(2017-01-17) (aged 60)
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Powell in Liberty Township, Delaware County, Ohio, U.S.
Known forFirst gorilla born in captivity and oldest gorilla in captivity



As she was rejected at birth by her mother, zookeepers had to hand-raise Colo. They hand-raised her much like a human child, by dressing her in clothes and giving her bottles of formula.[7] At the age of two years, Colo was introduced to a 19-month-old male from Africa called Bongo. Colo and Bongo had three offspring, the first on February 1, 1968, Emmy, a female. Colo and Bongo had two more offspring: Oscar, born July 18, 1969, and Toni, on December 28, 1971.[8]

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 Jantu was born. A birth at the Henry Doorly Zoo made Colo a great-great-grandmother in 2003.[9]

Although Colo did not raise any of her own offspring, she reared her twin grandsons, Macombo II and Mosuba, from birth.[10] Colo also acted as a guardian for her grandson, named J.J. after "Jungle" Jack Hanna with whom he shares a birthday.[11]

Colo resided at the Columbus Zoo longer than any other animal in the zoo's collection. She celebrated her 50th birthday in 2006 with her keeper Gregory Moore with a chimps' tea party. Colo and her progeny, five of which still reside at the Columbus Zoo, comprised about one-third of Columbus Zoo's gorilla collection of 17 as of 2015.[12]

Colo was the oldest living gorilla in captivity, following the death of 55-year-old Jenny in September 2008.[13] Colo celebrated her 60th birthday on 22 December 2016.[6] The Columbus Zoo announced that Colo died in her sleep on January 17, 2017.[14]


Colo was a mother to three, a grandmother to 16, a great-grandmother to 12, and a great-great-grandmother to three.[15]

See alsoEdit

Oldest apes#Gorillas

Preceded by
World's oldest living gorilla
September 4, 2008 — January 17, 2017
Succeeded by
Fatou, Trudy[16]


  1. ^ "Colo, the oldest gorilla in captivity, dies aged 60". BBC News. January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  2. ^ James L. Newman (5 July 2013). Encountering Gorillas: A Chronicle of Discovery, Exploitation, Understanding, and Survival. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 125–8. ISBN 978-1-4422-1957-1.
  3. ^ Lyttle, Jeff (1997). Gorillas in Our Midst: The Story of the Columbus Zoo Gorillas. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press. ISBN 9780814207666.
  4. ^ Jesse Donahue; Erik Trump (2007). Political Animals: Public Art in American Zoos and Aquariums. Lexington Books. pp. 99–102. ISBN 978-0-7391-1120-8.
  5. ^ Colo’s Story: The Life of One Grand Gorilla by Nancy Roe Pimm ISBN 978-0-9841554-4-6
  6. ^ a b "Columbus Zoo – Colo's Birthday!".
  7. ^ "World's Oldest Gorilla Celebrates Birthday at Columbus Zoo".
  8. ^ "Columbus — Gorilla Genealogy – Charts & Family Trees for Gorillas in Captivity".
  9. ^ al.], editor-in-chief Bernhard Grzimek. [Vol. 10]. [Mammals 1] / [edited by Walter Fiedler ... et (1984). Grzimek's Animal life encyclopedia (English ed.). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 540. ISBN 9780442230449.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Nancy Roe Pimm (1 January 2011). Colo's Story: The Life of One Grand Gorilla. Lerner Publishing Group. pp. 41–2. ISBN 978-0-9841554-4-6.
  11. ^ "Gorilla Family – Columbus".
  12. ^ "55-year-old gorilla dies at Dallas Zoo". Associated Press. Fort Worth Star Telegram. 2008-09-06. Retrieved 2008-09-28.[dead link]
  13. ^ "Columbus Zoo Announces the Death of Colo, World's Oldest Zoo Gorilla".
  14. ^ Schmidt, Samantha (January 18, 2017). "Thousands mourn the death of Colo, the world's oldest zoo gorilla". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  15. ^

External linksEdit