News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
January 19, 2018                                                
One of Nation’s Oldest Male Gorillas Turns 50 at Brookfield Zoo

     Brookfield, Ill.—Ramar, a western lowland gorilla at Brookfield Zoo, reached a milestone birthday of 50 years old this month. Although he appeared indifferent to all the attention, the animal care staff at Tropic World presented him with a frozen cake filled with bananas, apples, pineapples, and raisins and topped with a yogurt frosting and frozen blueberries. He also was given one of his favorites—banana leaves.

At age 50, Ramar is the third oldest male and seventh oldest western lowland gorilla in an accredited North American zoo as well as the oldest animal at Brookfield Zoo. Wild born and raised by a human family until age 7, his exact birthdate is not known, but it is always celebrated in January. Prior to arriving at Brookfield Zoo in October 1998 at age 30, Ramar resided at several other zoos. During his years as the dominant male or silverback of the gorilla group, he sired three offspring—Nadaya in 2001, Kamba in 2004, and Bakari in 2005. He is also the grandfather of Zachary, who is currently at Brookfield Zoo with his mom Kamba. Now in his “golden years,” Ramar has a habitat to himself during the day, which he seems to prefer. He gets plenty of one-on-one attention from the animal care staff, who provide him with an array of enrichment throughout the day as well as training sessions in which he is taught behaviors to aid in his own health care.

Considered geriatric—the life expectancy for male gorillas in professional care is 31.7 years—Ramar has encountered a few of the same age-related ailments that elderly humans do. With the increased level of knowledge and technology in veterinary medicine, animals are living longer in professional care than their wild counterparts. Diagnosed several years ago with degenerative arthritis in his knees, in 2017, Ramar received injections of a synthetic joint lubricant and platelet rich plasma, both of which are shown to improve comfort in people with similar arthritis issues. Soon after the surgery, Ramar was more mobile, and today, he is able to move around his habitat more easily.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List. Those interested in helping care for the gorillas at Brookfield Zoo can contribute to the Share the Care program. For $35, the recipient will receive the Basic Package, which includes a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph and fact sheet about the species, a personalized adoption certificate, a Share the Care car decal and an invitation to the annual Share the Care Evening. For further information, visit

Brookfield Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield. Admission to the zoo is $21.95 for adults and $15.95 for children 3 to 11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are admitted free. Parking is $14.
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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit



Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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