Riverbanks Zoo gorilla found dead

06/29/2010 10:27 AM

06/29/2010 10:29 AM

By Joey Holleman jholleman@thestate.com

COLUMBIA Kimya, the youngest of three male gorillas at Riverbanks Zoo, was found dead in his indoor enclosure early Monday.

Keepers said Kimya was unresponsive in his sleeping area on their first check of the gorillas Monday, zoo spokesperson Lindsay Burke said. There were no signs of injury, and Kimya had not shown any signs of disease in recent weeks.

Kimya’s remains were sent to the University of Georgia for a full examination, Burke said.

Kimya, 16, was born at the Toledo Zoo in 1994 and came to Riverbanks with Mike and Chaka from the Philadelphia Zoo in 2004. The gorillas at Riverbanks were in the news in 2009, when one of them climbed a droopy bamboo stalk to escape the Gorilla Base Camp exhibit. The escapee chased down and batted around a zoo concessions worker, who was later treated and released at a local hospital.

After less than five minutes of freedom, the gorilla climbed back inside the exhibit. Zoo officials originally identified the escapee as Mike, but later they said they couldn’t say for sure which gorilla had escaped.

Kimya was the largest of the three, at about 450 pounds, but he was younger than Chaka, the dominant leader of the group.

The gorillas at Riverbanks are western lowlands gorillas found in the wild in the tropical rain forests of West Africa. In the wild, gorillas live either in a large family – one dominant male, several females and some young males – or in bachelor groups composed entirely of males.

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