North Carolina Zoo Mourns the Passing of Rosie, the Matriarch of the Zoo’s Gorilla Troop
Asheboro, N.C. June 11, 2018 – The North Carolina Zoo sadly announces that Rosie, the Zoo’s 43-year-old female western lowland gorilla and the matriarch of the troop, was humanely euthanized Thursday, June 7, 2018.
She had developed an aggressive abdominal mass that was inoperable because of her advanced age. The median life expectancy for female gorillas is 38 ½ years old. Rosie joined the Zoo’s gorilla troop in 2015 with her grandson Hadari and silverback Mosuba from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.
Rosie’s contribution to the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for western lowland gorillas was significant. She bore several infants and was known as an excellent surrogate mother who embraced and cared for offspring that were not her own.
Rosie, born in 1974 at the Cincinnati Zoo, was also the mother of the country’s first and only gorilla born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 1995. The IVF baby, a female named Timu, now lives at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. In a twist of fate, the sperm donor for that first IVF birth was none other than the North Carolina Zoo’s current silverback, Mosuba, who was living at the Henry Doorly Zoo at that time.
Rosie left the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001 and joined Mosuba at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo for 14 years, where she eventually welcomed grandson Hadari (Timu’s son) in 2009.
In 2015, Rosie, Mosuba and Hadari all came as a group from the Henry Doorly Zoo to join the North Carolina Zoo as part of SSP’s recommendation.
Rosie and her excellent maternal care skills were a key factor in the recent decision to relocate Dembe, a 5-year-old male gorilla from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado after his father died.
“Rosie was a feisty and at times cantankerous old lady, but she was well respected by her troop members and caretakers,” said Jennifer Ireland, curator of mammals for the North Carolina Zoo. “She played an important role in AZA’s gorilla population, fostering and caring for young gorillas throughout her life. Her impact will be long-standing.”
“Rosie was the grandma of the troop,” said Jason Balder, a North Carolina Zookeeper. “To sum up Rosie in a few words is very hard to do. She was a very strong lady and very vocal – she always had something to say. All of us keepers will miss her tremendously.”
Ron Evans, curator of primates at the Cincinnati Zoo, worked with Rosie for years. “Rosie was a tough girl with strong opinions. She was a special gorilla and had a big impact while in Cincinnati. So glad she continued to live such a rich and productive life at Henry Doorly and North Carolina.”
Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered due primarily to habitat destruction and poaching. As a result, the gorilla population has declined by more than 60 percent over the last 20 to 25 years. Although populations are difficult to estimate, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) believes 150,000 – 250,000 are in the wild.
The Zoo’s troop now has seven gorillas – silverback Mosuba, females Jamani and Olympia, adolescent male Hadari, and juvenile males Apollo, Bomassa, and Dembe.
About the North Carolina Zoo
At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world’s largest natural habitat Zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,600 animals and 52,000 plants that call our Park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature’s diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcomes everyone to join in our mission to protect nature’s diversity. Visit NCZoo.org to begin your life-changing journey.
About the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.
NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919- 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.