A popular resident of the St. Louis Zoo is dead after collapsing in his outdoor habitat at Fragile Forest. 27-year-old Juma, a Western lowland gorilla, died Monday afternoon from what the zoo pathologist believes was a heart condition. It will take a couple of weeks until test results are complete.
The St. Louis Zoo has been a participant in the Great Ape Heart Project, a consortium established to better understand heart disease in apes and develop treatments. Juma, nicknamed "The Boss" was diagnosed with a heart problem in 2011. The average life expectancy of a male western lowland gorilla is 31 years. Juma was born at the zoo in 1988, and was one of five male gorillas in an all bachelor group. Wild gorilla males may choose to live in an all-male group if they are too young or are unable to assume leadership of a family group.