Colo, the first gorilla born in a zoo and oldest gorilla on record is making news again for her 57th birthday. In addition to being the longest lived gorilla in a zoo, this year the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium invites everyone to be a part of the celebration by logging on to a live webcast.
This Sunday, Dec. 22, starting at 1:30 p.m. log on to http://birthdays.columbuszoo.org/colo for some pre-recorded interviews with those closest to the birthday girl and stick around until 2 p.m. when a live feed from the Congo Expedition region of the Columbus Zoo will begin, giving viewers a front row seat to the party when Colo receives her presents and cake.
Wondering what a 57-year-old gorilla’s presents and cake are? Colo receives wrapped presents filled with her favorite treats which include clementines, tomatoes and berries. Her cake this year will consist of peanut butter, applesauce, shredded carrots and honey, along with some typical ingredients like flour. The frosting is going to be Greek yogurt that will be dyed yellow with an edible screen printing of Colo’s heart-shaped face. Some treats that she enjoys, such as tomatoes, star fruit and macadamia nuts will be used to garnish the top.
Colo has resided at the Columbus Zoo since her landmark birth in 1956 and holds the record for oldest gorilla. Her name came from a national “Name the Baby Gorilla” contest. The name Colo, which is short for Columbus Ohio, was chosen from more than 7,500 entries.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s Colo gave birth to three children and now her family tree includes 16 grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. While one daughter, two grandchildren and one great grandchild reside at the Columbus Zoo many of Colo’s descendants can be found in zoos across the country.
“The birth of Colo and her descendants have paved the way for gorillas, an endangered species, to thrive in human care. It’s hard to imagine what the world would be like today had she not been born,” said Tom Stalf, President and CEO of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
There are approximately 120,000 western lowland gorillas left in the wild. The numbers of wild gorillas are declining due to poaching, habitat destruction, and diseases like Ebola. The Columbus Zoo supports several great ape projects including the Mbeli Bai Study of western lowland gorillas based in the Republic of Congo, the Cross River Gorilla Project in Cameroon and Nigeria, and the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project in Central Africa. The Zoo is a long-term supporter of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), and in 2010, joined the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Ape Taxon Advisory Group Initiative as a platinum member. In 1991, the Columbus Zoo founded Partners in Conservation to conduct conservation and humanitarian programs benefiting both wildlife and people in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Each year the Columbus Zoo contributes $1 million of privately raised funds to more than 70 conservation projects in 30 countries.
If visitors would like to celebrate with Colo in person they may do so. Festivities at the Zoo are open to Columbus Zoo members and anyone who purchases general Zoo admission on the day of the event. Please visit www.columbuszoo.org for more information.
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Home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 575 species from around the globe, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium leads and inspires by connecting people and wildlife. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Course. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also operates the Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. It is a regional attraction with global impact; contributing more than $1 million annually to support over 70 conservation projects worldwide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating.