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Media News

Gorilla Matriarch at Zoo Miami Euthanized

January 18, 2017





RON MAGILL, Zoo Communications Director

305-251-0400, ext. 84916 – Zoo Miami


It is with heavy hearts that Zoo Miami announces the loss of our matriarch gorilla, “Josephine.”  Born in the wild in March of 1967, the nearly 50-year-old great ape had been suffering from several health issues that have slowly incapacitated her, none of which can be treated with positive results due to her advanced age.  Over the past several days, a variety of exams and tests were performed that resulted in several abnormalities which indicated systemic terminal conditions that had no chance for positive outcomes.

This morning, Josephine could hardly move, even to reach for her favorite treat.  At that time, the staff met and made the very difficult decision that with no hope of recovery, the right thing to do was to humanely euthanize her.  That procedure was successfully performed this afternoon.

This New Year has been especially difficult for the great ape team at the zoo as earlier this month we also lost “Binti,” a 34-year-old female chimpanzee that succumbed to a blood clot.  She was the first chimpanzee born at Zoo Miami and her mother, Rosebud, is still alive and now resides at the St. Louis Zoo.

Josephine arrived at Zoo Miami (then Miami Metrozoo) in March of 1983 on loan from the National Institute of Health.  She was officially donated to the zoo in January of 2000.  In 1984, Josephine gave birth to the first gorilla born at Zoo Miami, a male named “Moja.”  Moja went on to the Gladys Porter Zoo where he fathered several offspring, most notably “Harambe,” the male silverback that was tragically killed at the Cincinnati Zoo last year to avoid serious injury to a child who had fallen into the enclosure.

In 2009, after being practically blind due to severe cataracts, Josephine received cataract surgery and had two artificial human lenses implanted into her eyes that successfully restored her sight.  This historic surgery greatly improved Josephine’s quality of life for several years and was celebrated in the media as well as within the zoological community.

With Josephine’s passing, Fredrika, a 42-year-old female, is the only gorilla that remains at Zoo Miami.  It is most likely that she will be transferred to another institution so that she can be socialized with another gorilla troop.  At that time, Zoo Miami will wait for the recommendation of the Gorilla SSP (Species Survival Plan) coordinator as to what gorillas will come to Zoo Miami to establish a new troop.


Posted by Andrea Obregon at 4:55 PM

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