Kumbuka, famous London Zoo gorilla who once escaped enclosure, dies aged 21
A silverback gorilla at London Zoo who once escaped his enclosure has died at the age of 21.
Kumbuka was found to have severe infection by vets at the zoo and the decision was made to put him to sleep.
The primate made headlines when he spent an hour on the loose after one of the entrances to his enclosure was left open by a keeper.
He was later recaptured after being shot with a tranquilliser gun.
In recent days zookeepers had noticed the 21-year-old was not eating his food or playing with other gorillas.
He was sedated and it was found that he had an infection.
Vets initially planned to operate but it was soon discovered that the illness was more severe and he was not awoken from the anaesthetic.
Announcing the death, Kathryn England, the Chief Operating Officer at London Zoo, said: “We have some sad news to share.
“Kumbuka, ZSL London Zoo’s silverback gorilla passed away on Friday 25 October.
“Working closely with Kumbuka every day, our keepers had noticed that he was unwell.
“Following close observation from the veterinary team, the decision was made to give Kumbuka a general anaesthetic so that the team could get a better understanding of what was making him unwell.
“Once anaesthetised, and with the support of specialist doctors from University College Hospital and Guys and St Thomas’ in London, our vets could see that Kumbuka had an infection which required surgery to further investigate.
“Sadly this revealed that the infection was severe and widespread, and that the kindest, and only, option was to not bring him round from the anaesthesia.
England said Kumbuka had been a “larger than life character, a devoted father of two and proud leader of London Zoo’s troop”.
“He will be sorely missed by those who worked with him every day and by our many visitors who were so impressed by his sheer presence,” she said.
“We’ll look back fondly on our charismatic, gentle giant.
“Our team will now focus on ensuring the females and infants, all of whom appear healthy and well, remain settled over the next few days.”
Speaking at the time of Kumbuka’s 2016 escape, zoo bosses said there had never been any danger to the public.