Ozzie (gorilla)

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Other name(s)Ozoum
SpeciesWestern lowland gorilla
Bornc.  1961
Central Africa
DiedJanuary 25, 2022(2022-01-25) (aged 60–61)
Zoo Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Known forOldest recorded male gorilla in captivity

Ozoum, commonly referred to as Ozzie (c. 1961 – January 25, 2022), was an African-born western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) who was a subject of research at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in the U.S. state of Georgia from 1964 until 1988, when he was transferred to Zoo Atlanta. In 2009, he was the first gorilla to "volunteer" for a blood pressure test. Before his death at age 60, he was the oldest recorded male gorilla in captivity.


Ozoum, commonly referred to as Ozzie, was a western lowland gorilla born in Africa circa 1961.[1] He was caught on June 1, 1963.[2] At the estimated age of 3, Ozoum arrived at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center on April 23, 1964.[3] In the 1970s, he was part of self-recognition studies.[4] In 1971, Ozoum was a subject in a quantitative study of antigenic determinants of red blood cells.[5] Beginning in October 1971, Ozoum was the subject of reproductive behavior research.[3]

In 1988, Ozzie was moved to the Ford African Rainforest at Zoo Atlanta.[6] After transferring to Zoo Atlanta, Ozoum continued to be the subject of behavioral studies.[7][8] Ozzie was a subject in a heart disease study at Zoo Atlanta.[1] In 2009, he learned how to take his own blood pressure by inserting his arm in a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff), becoming the first gorilla to voluntarily do so. This took place after receiving months of training by zookeepers and researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory University.[9] Ozzie communicated with zoo staff through vocalizations and raps on doors and windows.[10]

By 2013, Ozzie had twelve children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.[6]

On June 20, 2021, the zoo celebrated Ozzie's 60th birthday, making him the oldest male gorilla in captivity.[11] He weighed 160 kg (350 lb).[12] In September 2021, Ozzie tested positive for COVID-19.[12]

Ozzie had heart disease and arthritis.[1] He died on January 25, 2022, after experiencing facial swelling, weakness, and loss of appetite.[10] Zoo Atlanta president and CEO Raymond B. King stated "Ozzie's life's contributions are indelible, in the generations of individuals he leaves behind in the gorilla population".[10]


  1. ^ a b c Emerson, Bo (January 26, 2022). "Zoo Atlanta announces that Ozzie, oldest living male gorilla, has died". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  2. ^ Roby, Eisner (July 31, 2013). "Western Lowland Gorilla 2013 North American Regional Studbook" (PDF). Knoxville Zoo. p. 16. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Riddle, Kenton E.; Keeling, Michale E.; Roberts, Jimmy (1973). "Birth of a Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center". The Journal of Zoo Animal Medicine. 4 (4): 22. doi:10.2307/20094209. JSTOR 20094209.
  4. ^ Suarez, Susan D.; Gallup, Gordon G. (February 1981). "Self-recognition in chimpanzees and orangutans, but not gorillas". Journal of Human Evolution. 10 (2): 175–188. doi:10.1016/S0047-2484(81)80016-4.
  5. ^ Masouredis, S. P. (September 10, 1971). "Quantitative Studies of the Rh o (D) Antigenic Determinants on Gorilla Erythrocytes". Transfusion. 11 (5): 270–280. doi:10.1111/j.1537-2995.1971.tb04414.x. PMID 4106584. S2CID 5196213.
  6. ^ a b Stump, Scott (April 24, 2013). "World's oldest male gorilla turns 52". Today.com. TODAY. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  7. ^ Hoff, Michael P.; Hoff, Kathryn T.; Horton, L. Charles; Maple, Terry L. (1996). "Behavioral effects of changing group membership among captive lowland gorillas". Zoo Biology. 15 (4): 383–393. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1098-2361(1996)15:4<383::AID-ZOO3>3.0.CO;2-7. ISSN 1098-2361.
  8. ^ Hoff, Michael P.; Forthman, Debra L.; Maple, Terry L. (1994). "Dyadic interactions of infant lowland gorillas in an outdoor exhibit compared to an indoor holding area". Zoo Biology. 13 (3): 245–256. doi:10.1002/zoo.1430130306. ISSN 0733-3188.
  9. ^ "Gorilla learns to measure its own blood pressure". NY Daily News. November 11, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  10. ^ a b c Jackson, Amanda (January 26, 2022). "Ozzie, the world's oldest male gorilla, has died at Zoo Atlanta". CNN. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  11. ^ Morgan, Josh (June 28, 2021). "World's oldest living male Gorilla celebrates 60th birthday at Zoo Atlanta". CBS46 News Atlanta. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  12. ^ a b "World's oldest living male gorilla tests positive for COVID-19 virus". FOX 5 Atlanta. September 10, 2021. Retrieved January 26, 2022.