CHICAGO (CBS) — One of the residents at Brookfield Zoo reached a milestone birthday.
Ramar, a western lowland gorilla, turned 50 this month. Not only is he the oldest animal at Brookfield Zoo, but he is the third oldest male and seventh oldest western lowland gorilla in an accredited North American zoo.
And what is a milestone birthday without a little celebration?
Brookfield Zoo’s animal care staff treated Ramar with a frozen cake filled with bananas, apples, pineapples, and raisins and topped with a yogurt frosting and blueberries. He also was given one of his favorites—banana leaves, the zoo said.
Ramar’s story is a bit unusual and opposite of the story of Tarzan. He was born in the wild and then raised by a human family until the age of seven. Though his exact birthdate is unknown, the zoo always celebrates it in January.
Before arriving at Brookfield Zoo in October 1998 at age 30, Ramar resided at several other zoos. He was considered the dominant male, or the silverback of the gorilla group, for many years. According to the zoo, he sired three offspring—Nadaya in 2001, Kamba in 2004, and Bakari in 2005. He is also the grandfather of Zachary, who is currently at Brookfield Zoo with his mom Kamba.
Ramar is now in his “golden years” and the zoo has separated him from the rest of the gorilla group, which according to Brookfield, he prefers. Ramar receives one-on-one attention from the animal care staff that provides him enrichment treats and training sessions through the day.
And though he may be golden, Ramar is considered geriatric and has encountered a few of the same age-related ailments that elderly humans do. Several years ago, he was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in his knees, but in 2017, he received injections of a synthetic joint lubricant and platelet rich plasma, both of which are shown to improve comfort in people with similar arthritis issues. Soon after the surgery, Ramar was more mobile, and today, he is able to move around his habitat more easily.
The life expectancy for male gorillas in professional care is 31.7, which goes to show that with the increased level of knowledge and technology in veterinary medicine, animals in professional care
are living longer.
Guests of Brookfield Zoo can visit Ramar in the Tropical World exhibit.