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Fatou, the world's oldest gorilla, celebrates her 67th birthday

Fatou became the world's oldest gorilla in 2019 and is now the only gorilla born in the 1950s to still be living.
Fatou, the world's oldest gorilla, celebrates her 67th birthday
Posted at 6:16 PM, Apr 12, 2024

The most visited zoo in Europe is celebrating another milestone for one of its most special residents: Fatou, believed to be the oldest gorilla in the world, is turning 67 years old.

Born in 1957, Fatou came to the Berlin Zoo at 2 and years later gave birth to Dufte, the first gorilla to be raised in Germany's capital city. The elder primate is now a grandmother of two through Dufte, a great-grandmother of 13 — though only five are still living — and a great-great and great-great-great-grandmother to more than 20 total, dead and alive.

But even with all that family, Fatou prefers to live in her own enclosure, and the zoo's oldest resident should get what she wants.

"Fatou is free to contact her neighbors at any time if she would like to, but instead she purposefully seeks solitude and stays away from the other gorillas," said Ruben Gralki, the zoo's deputy division head, last year.

Fatou became the Berlin Zoo's oldest resident earlier this year when Ingo the flamingo died after at least 75 years. 

But the primate became the oldest living gorilla in 2019 after the death of Trudy, who lived in Little Rock's Zoo in Arkansas. Then on Fatou's 63rd birthday in 2020, the Berlin primate became the oldest gorilla ever, passing Trudy's final age. And two years ago, she gained another milestone, being the last surviving gorilla born in the 1950s.

Fatou's birthday, which is on Saturday, is celebrated every year with a special feast, though her treats are probably healthier than ours would be. In lieu of cake, she digs in on an array of fruits, vegetables and edible flowers — all soft due to Fatou's lack of teeth.

Gorillas are almost exclusively vegetarian, acting as "gardeners" in their African rainforest home, the zoo says. But gorillas can have fruit on rare, special occasions because they have to limit their sugar/fructose intake, the Berlin Zoo states.

So when you make your morning breakfast tomorrow, throw a couple berries in there for Fatou's birthday.


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