Cassius, 31-year-old gorilla, dies at the Milwaukee County Zoo

MILWAUKEE -- Zoo officials from the Milwaukee County Zoo say their 31-year-old male Western lowland gorilla has died.

The Milwaukee County Zoo says the gorilla, named Cassius, died Thursday night, April 12.

Officials say the exact cause of death is not known at this time.  For the past day and a half, Cassius was not interested in food or water. Significant concerns arise when having to immobilize great ape species, so keepers and animal care staff first observed Cassius closely, in the hope of being able to administer medication orally.  If the animal is non-compliant, then immobilization is the next course of action.

Cassius, 31-year-old gorilla, dies at the Milwaukee County Zoo

Cassius underwent an exam Thursday morning, and veterinarians performed a cardiac ultrasound, electrocardiogram and a blood draw. According to the zoo officials, immediate findings indicated decreased liver and kidney function and that the heart may not have been contracting fully.

Cassius was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas and arrived at the Milwaukee County Zoo in 1998.

Cassius was the father to the most recent gorilla baby born at the Zoo, Zahra, and was part of the family group consisting of Zahra’s mother, Naku, female, Shalia, and youngster, Sulaiman.