Photo by The South Florida Museum

Celebrating the Lives of Iconic Zoo Animals

This year some of the oldest animals in the world closed their eyes for the last time. It shows that animals in zoological care can live longer because of the care they receive and can be ambassadors for their species. Colo, the world’s oldest gorilla died at 60; Bertha, the world’s oldest Hippo died at 65; and more recently Snooty, the world’s oldest manatee died at 69. All three of these animals spent decades connected with guests and raising awareness for their species.

Colo was a Western Lowland Gorilla that died peacefully in her sleep at the Columbus Zoo earlier this year. She was a great ambassador for her species and lived to be 60 years old. Although her wild counterparts can live to be 50 years old or even older, such a long lifespan in the wild is rare. Colo outlived this lifespan by nearly two decades. She was born on December 22, 1956 and was the first gorilla born in human care.


Photo by The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Bertha is another great animal ambassador that lived past 60. She spent her long life at the Manila Zoo since the zoo opened in 1959. She was one of the original animals and the oldest at the zoo. She connected guests to her species for nearly seven decades. She outlived her wild counterparts, as wild hippos live to be 30-40. Her age can be directly attributed to the excellent care that she received. She was given the title “The Queen of the Manila Zoo” became she was gentile and loved to be fed by hand by zoo keepers. Her life exemplifies the care that animals receive in zoological facilities.

Bertha the world's oldest hippo at the Manila Zoo

Photo by Zoo Nation

Snooty, the oldest manatee in captivity and Guinness World Record holder died only two days after his 69th birthday. Snooty was born on July 21st, 1948 and moved to The South Florida Museum in 1949. He was the first manatee born in human care and became a great ambassador for his species, and Manatee’ County’s official mascot. He had participated in scientific research studies to understand manatee hearing and vocalization and hosted other manatees that were being rehabilitated.  More than million visitors have seen Snooty up close. Snooty was the greatest ambassadors for his species and his greatest legacy will be connecting guests to Florida manatees and encouraging them to protect his species.

Photo by The South Florida Museum

Photo by The South Florida Museum

Zoological facilities around the world care for a variety of species that act as ambassadors, connecting guests with the wild. It is through this connection that the zoo can spread a message of conservation and ignite passion and love for these animals. Animals are living longer in zoological facilities than in the wild because of the excellent veterinary and animal care that they receive. Zoos may very well be our last hope to save a species. That is why it is so important to touch the heart of guests so that the guests will be inspired to make a difference and protect the animals that they love.

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