J.J., a lowland silverback gorilla who entertained visitors at Zoo Miami for the past three decades, died Saturday after undergoing a series of medical tests.
The 447-pound gorilla had long history of heart disease and had become weak in the past few days, zoo spokesman Ron Magill said in a news release. After veterinarians completed some tests and moved him to a recovery area, J.J. slipped into a coma and died with zoo staff by his side. Western lowland gorillas live 35 years on average in the wild; J.J. was 35.
Zoo staff described him as a “gentle giant” who cared for his troop of gorillas at the zoo and his two daughters, Moka and Alice, patientently and protectively. “He will be profoundly missed by all who had the privilege to know him,” the zoo said in a statement.
J.J. was born in New Orleans on July 8, 1979; his species is endangered and is typically found in western Africa.