First gorilla born in captivity in Europe dies in Basel Zoo

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First gorilla born in captivity in Europe dies in Basel Zoo
Photo: Basel Zoo

Goma, the first gorilla to be born in a European zoo, has died aged 58 in Basel.


Basel Zoo reported on Friday that the female ape had died of old age surrounded by her family.

Apart from the usual signs of old age there was nothing wrong with her and until recently she was in robust health, the zoo said.

Loved by a generation of Basel residents, Goma was born in the city zoo in 1959 and was initially raised by the family of then zoo director Ernst Lang as it was feared her inexperienced mother would not care for her properly.

Goma as a baby. Photo: Basel Zoo

When she was around one year old, Goma got company in the shape of Pepe, a male of the same age.

Later, both were returned to the family group.

Goma gave birth to her only child, Tamtam, in 1971 and managed to raise him herself without human assistance.

In 2009 the zoo held a party to celebrate Goma’s 50th birthday.

Because of her unusual childhood Goma had a strong attachment to people, the zoo said, and was for a long time an outsider in her group.

But in her last two decades she became more integrated in family life, and by the end of her life was “a contented and caring grandmother”.


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