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Beloved silverback gorilla dies at Oklahoma City Zoo

One of the Oklahoma City Zoo's silverback gorillas, Bom Bom, died Monday of heart failure. He was 36.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: June 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm •  Published: June 26, 2012

A silverback gorilla at the Oklahoma City Zoo died Monday of heart disease.

Bom Bom, 36, had a ruptured aneurysm in his heart.

“He was a great gorilla,” said Jennifer D'Agostino, director of veterinarian services at the Oklahoma City Zoo. “He was really good with his family. He's going to be missed for sure.”

The ape was diagnosed with heart disease in January 2010.

He was examined after his keepers noticed him having trouble getting around. He was moving slowly, short of breath and unable to use his hips correctly. They suspected back trouble, heart disease or both.

Veterinarians discovered his heart muscle had thickened, and his blood pressure was really high, D'Agostino said.

The ape was put on blood pressure medicine, and he perked up. His energy returned. He started moving normally.

“You could tell he felt much better,” D'Agostino said.

But about two months ago, Bom Bom started losing weight. His keepers gave him extra food, especially protein, but he kept losing weight. He was lethargic.

D'Agostino gave him more medicine for his arthritis and his blood pressure, and he felt better again. But he kept losing weight. He had dropped from about 330 pounds to 287.

He died suddenly while walking outside Monday morning.

“He just dropped and that was it,” D'Agostino said.

Veterinarians arrived at the ape habitat within minutes and performed CPR, but the gorilla could not be revived.

Zoo officials placed his body inside the hallway of the ape house so all the other gorillas could see and touch his body.

“They know what happened,” D'Agostino said. “They seem so far today (Tuesday) to be doing OK. I'm sure that they're going to have a little bit of grieving and upheaval in the group.”

The zoo staff performed a necropsy, an animal autopsy, and discovered an aneurysm ruptured in his heart.

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