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Good night, sweet Nina

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

Beautiful Nina. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

A great grandmother and the bedrock of our gorilla groups, Nina passed away today at the age of 47.

The elderly gorilla had received such tender, specialized care from her keepers in her final geriatric years, but old age caught up with her today.

After a normal morning of eating and resting, Nina was not visible in any of her favorite spots in the exhibit later in the morning. When the keepers became concerned and started looking for her, she was spotted, not moving, under a large tree. Nina was taken to our veterinary hospital where animal care and veterinary staff made the humane decision to euthanize her.

Nina enjoying a birthday treat earlier this year. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Earlier this year many of you joined us for a special celebration in honor of Nina, her silverback mate Pete, as well as orangutan twins, Towan and Chinta, all of whom celebrated their 47th birthdays this winter. These ape old timers remind us how far we have come as a zoo and as a community.

Nina as an infant at Woodland Park Zoo.

In Nina’s lifetime, Woodland Park Zoo opened its first immersive exhibits and transformed the homes of its animals. Our veterinary science advanced in leaps and bounds, which allowed us to provide such extraordinary lifelong care for Nina. And our knowledge of gorillas greatly increased, learning from Nina’s incredible example as a mother—both biological and adoptive—grandmother and great grandmother.

Nina with daughter, Kami, born in 1977.

How many hearts she must have touched in her many years.

How many smiles she must have earned from children tickled by her signature, outthrust tongue.

How many minds she must have opened of those who found a bit of themselves reflected in her wise eyes.

We were lucky to have known you, Nina. Thank you.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.


Anonymous said…
What a legacy! She was so loved for all of her long life.
Charlene Dorrell said…
RIP Beautiful Nina, I enjoyed all my trips to Woodland Park, taking pictures of you and your mate Pete, I will miss seeing you on my next trip there, but I will always treasure you.
Lucinda said…
My heart is broken
Matt Calcavecchia said…
She was special and my favorite. Goodbye Nina.
Unknown said…
We just saw her on Sunday and took lots of pictures of her! She was sitting by the window with her tongue out, as she frequently did. We will miss you Nina! Rest in paradise sweetie!
Anonymous said…
Poor Nina should have never been in a zoo. We should not lock up animals for our own amusement or for profit. RIP Nina.
Anonymous said…
RIP dear, sweet and lovable Nina. You were my most favorite and when I looked into your eyes, you had that warm and soft glow to them. You reminded me so much as a human grandmother. I am going to miss you with all my heart and I send my dearest thoughts and prayers to the WPZ staff. =(
Anonymous said…
our Woodland Park Zoo has come a long way from the old days of cement enclosures... I'm so glad Nina and her group have been able to live here and enjoy all the "comforts of home". I'm sure they all miss her now. Bless you old gramma and enjoy your well deserved rest.
Anonymous said…
As long as we continue to destroy their natural habitats, Zoos maybe their only homes someday...
Charles Reinsch said…
I only learned yesterday of Nina's passing. Remember her burlap shawls and head coverings. The stress-induced hair pulling on her own arms and (was it Zuri's?) head. And then there were the painful attempts to reintroduce her second born (Wanto) to the troop. He of the bizarre postures and begging waves that used to play a kind of peek-a-boo from behind a bush in the small enclosure. And then there was Kiki splashing water from the stream, or climbing to try and get a view of the savannah. So much for not liking water, and adults avoiding heights. Last of the three taken off their mothers in the wild, a capture that would have taken the death of so many, is slightly goofy Pete, the secret progenitor.
Leslie B. said…
I have a photo of Nina from Sept 2014: