Kathy was one of the first animals to benefit from the 1991 sales tax that increased funding for the zoo. One of the first large projects from that funding was the zoo's ape facility.
D'Agostino said Kathy has children and grandchildren, and perhaps great grandchildren at other zoos across the country. Motherhood came easily for her.
“She was a very charismatic animal,” D'Agostino said. “She was the leader of her group and a great mom. She had a lot of offspring and she taught younger females how to be good moms. That's one of the ways her impact on her species will live on.”
Kathy had George with Bom Bom, a male gorilla who died in June 2012 from a heart ailment. Before he died, Bom Bom also sired a baby gorilla that was born at the zoo on Valentine's Day.
Zoo spokeswoman Tara Henson said the zoo had received many calls, emails and text messages from former staffers by Tuesday afternoon.
“She had a tremendous impact on those who work here, and on those who have either retired or gone on to other zoos,” Henson said. “She had been here a very long time and many people had a role in caring for her.”