Sixty-year-old gorilla Vila, believed to be the world’s second oldest, died at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Thursday. Vila was the “matriarch of five generations” of gorillas, the zoo said on Twitter.
Gorillas typically live up to 35 to 40 years. Vila turned 60 in October, when the zoo threw a party with snacks and birthday cakes.
“Sixty is a very big deal in the gorilla world because there are very few gorillas anywhere near that age,” Peggy Sexton, lead animal keeper at the park, had then said, according to NBC San Diego.
“Vila passed away this afternoon [Thursday] surrounded by members of her family gorilla troop,” the San Diego Zoo Safari Park said. Several users posted their memories of Vila on the social media.
The gorilla is believed to have been born in 1957 in the Congo. She later arrived in the United States, where she was first raised at the San Diego Zoo and later moved to the Safari Park. She served as a surrogate mother to many gorillas.