Gorilla Dies at Brookfield Zoo

One of the oldest western lowland gorillas in a North American zoo died Thursday night at Brookfield Zoo.

Beta, 47, died from respiratory and cardiac arrest while recovering from anesthesia during a CT scan. Veterinary staff was trying to determine how to best treat her for uterine cancer that had been discovered in recent months.

"Beta had a great disposition and was well loved by the primate staff who cared for her. Colleagues and zoo guests often said she had a very photogenic face," said Craig Demitros, associate curator of primates for the Chicago Zoological Society.

During a necropsy performed Friday, preliminary results idicate that the tumor was inoperable.

One of the most celebrated gorillas in human care, Beta’s long life represented the continual advancements in geriatric veterinary medicine for gorillas. She was the first gorilla to have two hips replaced to ease osteoarthritis and the first to be treated for uterine fibroids using advanced technologies.

Beta arrived at Brookfield Zoo on August 2, 1963, when she was about two-and-a-half years old. Since she was wild born, her estimated date of birth is March 1961.

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