Animal News

Dallas Zoo surprised by latest premature death of silverback gorilla

Dallas Zoo surprised by latest premature death of silverback gorilla

Farewell Subira; sorry your days ended at the Dallas Zoo. Facebook

Another animal has died at the Dallas Zoo, this time a male silverback gorilla named Subira.

Subira was only 24; the typical lifespan of a silverback gorilla is 35-40 years.

The zoo announced his death on Facebook, with an original explanation that he had a cough. They later revealed that oops, the gorilla died of cardiovascular disease, along with an explanation of how cardiovascular disease is completely totally absolutely normal for male gorillas.

"Heart disease is the number one cause of death for male gorillas, which is why our males receive regular wellness checks, including bimonthly heart rate tests as well as a more intensive ultrasound procedure every three years," their statement says. "Subira's last heart ultrasound was conducted in 2018 and showed no signs of heart disease, and his latest heart rate measurements had all been normal, which makes his passing all the more sudden and tragic."

Things are always sudden and tragic at the Dallas Zoo.

This is the second gorilla to have died at the zoo within just a few months: In November, Hope, a 23-year-old Western lowland gorilla, passed away suddenly and tragically as well; her death took the zoo entirely by surprise.

She left behind Saambili, a baby gorilla to whom she gave birth in July 2018. Subira was Saambili's father, so now Saambili is orphaned without either parent. And yet the Dallas Morning News, which seems to lack all journalistic curiosity regarding the zoo, in their story about Subira's death, embarrassingly describes him as "an excellent father."

Subira was born at the Toronto Zoo, then transferred to Granby Zoo in Quebec. He came to Dallas in 2014. At the time, zoo staffer Keith Zdrojewski said, "This is huge for the Dallas Zoo, since we haven't had a gorilla baby in over 10 years." Baby animals represent a major source of income for zoos.

Inexplicably, the zoo's statement on Subira's death invokes COVID-19, which would seem to come completely out of left field.

"Given his cough, we also were incredibly sensitive to concerns about COVID-19," the release says. "The CDC has not received any reports of animals becoming ill from this disease, and we have no reason to believe that any of our animals are at risk. Out of an abundance of caution, we worked with local and state officials and were able to confirm earlier this week that Subira was NEGATIVE for novel coronavirus."

Good work confirming something they had no reason to suspect — but a pity that cardiovascular disease was not anticipated, since, as the zoo itself states, it is so very very common among male gorillas.

Subira is the latest in a long series of animal deaths at the Dallas Zoo:

  • Hope, a a 23-year-old Western lowland gorilla, died suddenly in November 2019 after being at the zoo for only two years.
  • Ola, an 8-year-old female African painted dog, was killed in July 2019 by two other painted dogs, less than a month after she was transferred to the zoo.
  • Witten, a 1-year-old giraffe, died in June 2019 during a physical exam under anesthesia when he suddenly stopped breathing.
  • Adhama, a baby hippopotamus, mysteriously died in 2018.
  • Kipenzi, a baby giraffe, died in 2015 after running in her enclosure.
  • Kamau, a young cheetah, died of pneumonia in 2014.
  • Johari, a female lion, was killed in front of zoo spectators in 2013 by male lions with whom she shared an enclosure.