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Happy Birthday Samantha! Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla matriarch celebrates her 50th birthday

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The oldest mammal housed at the Cincinnati Zoo, the matriarch of its gorilla family, is celebrating her 50th birthday on Friday.

Samantha the Gorilla was given a very special "cake" by the zoo to celebrate the occasion. The "cake" was made with items that are considered healthy for Samantha's diet, such as yogurt, fruit, and nutritionally-rich primate chow.

“Samantha is the longest-lived animal ever born at the Cincinnati Zoo,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s curator of primates Ron Evans. “No other single animal has connected with people for a 50-year period here. Her contribution to the Zoo’s history is significant. She’s a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, matriarch, role model, record setter, and an inspirational ambassador. We have tried to capture the breadth and depth of her amazing life through a series of Zoo Facebook posts over the past 50 days as well as a new interpretive sign at Gorilla World commemorating her many milestones.”

Samantha, of course, shared her cake with her gorilla family. In addition to the cake, the zoo provided Samantha and the gorillas with other forest-favorite snack items such as forsythia, banana leaves, fiscus, bamboo as well as fresh melons.

“She is the best mother gorilla in the history of the Zoo and has given birth to six gorillas,” said Evans. “In addition to that, she has pitched in to help with other family members’ youngsters and is currently the surrogate mom for our youngest gorilla. She has lived with more than 40 individual gorillas at the Cincinnati Zoo and has a grand extended gorilla family throughout North America. She is currently the 6th oldest of all the 360+ gorillas in North America, a real tribute to the scores of people who have enjoyed the privilege to travel on this 50-year journey with her.”


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