It saddens Oklahoma City Zoo officials to announce the death of a Western lowland gorilla on Monday, June 25. Bom Bom, a 36-year-old silverback died after going into cardiac arrest. A necropsy, animal autopsy was performed and results indicated heart disease as the official cause of death. Diagnosed with heart disease in early 2010, Bom Bom had been on heart medication since that time to alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
Bom Bom was the leader of one of the Zoo's two troops of lowland gorillas and a guest favorite at Great EscApe. Considered a very good troop leader by his caregivers, Bom Bom's family included females Kathy, Emily, Kelele, Mikella, and Ndjole.
Bom Bom arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo in 2002 from the Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, LA as part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) One of this SSP's most important roles is to manage gorillas as a population, to ensure that the population remains healthy, genetically-diverse, and self-sustaining. Bom Bom sired two offspring during his lifetime a female, Kitombe, born in 1986, who lives at the Franklin Park Zoo and son George who was born in 2004 to mother Kathy and currently resides at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
Cardiac disease is a major cause of death for adult gorillas. In November 2006, a workshop including physicians, veterinarians, pathologists, and keepers was held to review what is known about gorilla cardiac health, as well as to discuss how to address gorilla health issues. This workshop marked the beginning of the Gorilla Health Project, an initiative to improve our understanding of gorilla health and ways to manage and prevent disease in this species. The meeting identified a critical first step in understanding disease issues of gorillas in zoo environments-- the formation of a comprehensive database incorporating information from individual gorillas' medical, nutrition and husbandry records. This database is essential for the identification of risk factors associated with cardiac disease and other disease syndromes seen in zoo populations. Oklahoma City Zoo participates in this study.
Native to the lowland forests of central and western Africa, Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered. Commercial hunting for meat, habitat loss, and poaching are contributing factors to their status in the wild.
"Bom Bom was such a magnificent animal, his loss will be felt by our entire Zoo family," said Dwight Scott, Zoo Executive Director.
If you would like to share your memories and thoughts about Bom Bom, please go to the Zoo's Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/okczoobg. Photos of Bom Bom will be added to the Zoo's website at okczoo.com and on the fan page. Your photos and memories are welcome.