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Trudy, oldest gorilla in captivity, dies

Little Rock Zoo

The Little Rock Zoo says Trudy, believed to be the oldest Western Lowland gorilla in captivity, has died at age 63. Trudy came to Little Rock from Buffalo in 1988 with a male gorilla, Ollie, on a breeding loan.

Little Rock Spokesperson Susan Altrui said zookeepers found Trudy dead when they checked on her Wednesday morning.

Altrui said Trudy was the oldest gorilla in the records of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, an international accrediting organization. She said it is possible, but highly unlikely, non-accredited zoos have older gorillas.

"Trudy's birthday is estimated to be June 1956, but it is possible that Trudy is older than her estimated age," the zoo said on its website.

The transfer from the Buffalo Zoo of Trudy with mate Ollie to Little Rock became the first gorillas ever exhibited in Arkansas. The zoo said Trudy never had offspring in Arkansas, but she "played an important role in the formation and longevity of one of the first multi-male gorilla groups, which are now commonly seen in zoos."

Syd Tanner, one of Trudy's former keepers, called her the "boss lady'' of her all-male group. Trudy was also one of the last gorillas captured in the wild. Today, North American gorillas are born in zoos.

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