Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Ramar Gorilla Turns 50 Years Old

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

Posted: 1/19/2018 12:36:18 PM by Steve Pine

Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Read the latest exciting stories about how our experts are advancing the science of “animal-directed” care through innovative programs at Brookfield Zoo and global field efforts.


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