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Face of Columbus Zoo’s gorilla surrogacy program dies

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Earlier today, while eating breakfast with his troop, Mumbah, a male gorilla at the Columbus Zoo, collapsed. The animal care team immediately rushed in and tried to resuscitate him, but the attempts were unsuccessful. Mumbah was thought to be 47 years old, living well past the 31-year expected lifespan of a male gorilla.

Born in equatorial Africa, Mumbah came to the Columbus Zoo in 1984 from the Howletts Wild Animal Park in England. He fathered one child in his lifetime, but quickly became the face of the surrogacy program at the Columbus Zoo as he welcomed 16 baby gorillas into his troop as adopted family members.

Zoo President and CEO Dale Schmidt said of Mumbah, “He was a gentle giant who readily accepted youngsters into his family. He was patient but effective at teaching them how to be vital members of a gorilla social group. His legacy will live on through all of the gorillas he helped to raise.”

Mumbah was popular with Columbus Zoo visitors as well. His droopy lower lip made him instantly recognizable to guests, and his position as surrogate father to so many adolescents made his troop a huge draw.

A necropsy, performed after giving time for the animals in his troop to mourn, showed that Mumbah had died from heart failure. This finding is consistent with several medical issues he suffered from, including a history of hypertension.