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Legendary gorilla dies during operation

Legendary gorilla dies during operation

Thursday 18 May 2017

Legendary gorilla dies during operation

Thursday 18 May 2017

Hearts are heavy at Jersey Zoo following the news silverback gorilla, Ya Kwanza, has died at the age of 33 during an operation for an injury.

Ya Kwanza was born in Australia in June 1984 and arrived on the Island in the early 90's. He spent 18 years in Jersey Zoo and produced two offspring - male Mapema and female Ya Pili, who died in 2007 -before being transferred to Amnéville Zoo in France in 2011 where he was the alpha male.

The silverback, whose name means 'the first' in Swahili because he was the first of his species to be born via artificial insemination, was extremely popular with both visitors and staff at the zoo.

Former keeper Richard Johnstone Scott commented on the news of his passing: “I was deeply saddened to hear about Ya Kwanza's sudden death, having looked after him for eighteen years. He was a magnificent looking silverback who was greatly admired by all who were privileged to have seen him and by staff who knew him well. I have many fond memories of him which include his regular, attention-seeking hammerings on my office window.”

Lee Durrell also shared her memories of the much-loved gorilla. She said: “Ya Kwanza was a past master at playing the big, fierce gorilla, and he did this often. But I remember him best as a dad. He had few children, but with them he was gentle and encouraging. I can still picture him sitting quietly with daughter YaPili by his side on a summer’s day in the gorilla outdoor enclosure, delicately plucking tiny flowers from the grass.”


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Posted by Valerie Payne on
Fond memories, so sad.
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