Last Tuesday, the world lost Ozzie, a male gorilla living at the Atlanta zoo. He was the oldest male gorilla in history and was 61 years old at the time. The cause of death was unclear, only specifying symptoms. Since Jan 20, he had experienced weakness and facial swelling, but he also became unable to eat 24 hours leading up to his death.

"Ozzie's life's contributions are indelible, in the generations of individuals he leaves behind in the gorilla population and in the world's body of knowledge in the care of his species,” says Raymond King, the president and CEO of Atlanta zoo. Ozzie paved the way for many medical discoveries. The same news article notes the blood pressure study carried out in 2009 that Ozzie participated in. He was the first gorilla to partake in a voluntary blood pressure reading.

The western lowland gorilla, Ozzie’s species, is a critically endangered species. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the population went down by 60% in just the last 20-25 years. They face many dire threats such as hunting. Their population dwindles by 5% annually from illegal poaching, not to mention disease and habitat loss bringing down the populations even more. Even if all the threats to this species disappear overnight, the road to recovery would be hard and grueling and would take at least 75 years.

Daniel, February 2022

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