photo - 50 yr old, female Gorilla Demba, looking over her should at camera, facial expression is feeling of "and....".

Louisville Zoo Says Goodbye to 50-year-old Female Gorilla Demba (Media Release)

CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
502-238-5331 (Media Cell 502-744-5639)

The Louisville Zoo made the difficult decision to euthanize 50-year-old Demba today.  Demba had been diagnosed with endocarditis (heart valve infection) back in 2013.  With help from the local medical community, the gorilla survived this life-threatening infection and went on to live another 7 years.  Keepers and veterinary staff have been closely monitoring her as her heart disease progressed.  As Demba’s quality of life recently declined, staff deliberated and decided that euthanasia was the most appropriate option. A necropsy and complete pathologic examination will be performed.

Demba was housed with Helen, the second oldest western lowland gorilla in the world and the oldest in the North American managed populations at nearly 63 years of age. The flexibility of the space at Gorilla Forest will allow the staff to provide for Helen’s needs following the loss of Demba.  The median life expectancy of a female gorilla in managed care is about 39 years.

“Demba’s story is one we are all very proud of”, said Senior Staff Veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi.  “To diagnose, treat, and survive a bout of endocarditis was remarkable, and then to manage her condition in the years following is a testament to the great care provided to the animals.”

Demba was born at the Dallas Zoo (TX), spent some time at the Philadelphia Zoo (PA), and came to the Louisville Zoo in December of 2006.


The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).