This gorilla is older than your dad!

Berlin, Germany - Fatou is the oldest gorilla in the world, with her lumbering limbs and astonishing strength. She is so incredibly elderly, in fact, that she is quite likely to be older than your dad.

Fatou is the oldest living gorilla in captivity.
Fatou is the oldest living gorilla in captivity.  © Imago/Funke Foto Services

Gorillas often live for quite a while, but very few live to be as old as Fatou, a gorilla so elderly that she has brought home her very own animal world record. What is her story, though, how did she end up living for such an incredibly long period of time, and what on Earth is she doing in Berlin?

This is the world's oldest gorilla!

Fatou is, at 67 years old, the oldest gorilla in the world. More specifically, she has won the world record for the oldest living gorilla in captivity from Guinness World Records, providing her with an accolade few would have expected her to achieve when she was found in West Africa and delivered to Berlin Zoo in 1959.

It is worth noting that Fatou's exact age and birthday are unknown due to the fact that she was born in the wild. The age of 67 is assumed due to the belief by animal experts that she was at least two years old when she arrived in Berlin. As a result, Fatou could actually be older than we think she is!

This beautiful creature is a member of the western lowland gorilla species, which has a life expectancy of between forty and fifty years. She has lived in her Berlin Zoo habitat for most of her long life and, as a result, has managed to hang on due to an easy life full of food and love.

Fatou mostly eats vegetables due to the fact that commercially available fruit has far more sugar in it than the natural stuff gorillas eat in the wild. She loves to forage around the place and climb on stuff, but in her old age, she has become a lot less sociable, opting to stay away from the other gorillas.

Due to her extraordinarily long life and remarkable story, Fatou is one of the world's most famous gorillas – and the longest-living.

How did this gorilla get so old?

Fatou lives at Berlin Zoo, and she's a truly talented ape.
Fatou lives at Berlin Zoo, and she's a truly talented ape.  © IMAGO/Pacific Press Agency

Fatou has a truly remarkable backstory, having been found somewhere in western Africa way back in 1959. The man who discovered her was a sailor, who proceeded to bring her back to France when he returned home. It must have been very traumatic for the then-young ape, who must have sat on that ship for days on end.

Once he had returned to France, Fatou's captor sold her at a local tavern to pay off a debt that the sailor had with the establishment. Following the sale, she was then sold again to French animal trader Madame Lefevre, who, in turn, sold her to Berlin Zoo.

She has lived there ever since, for more than 60 years, sharing the enclosure with generations of beautiful gorilla friends, waving at human observers, and keeping the gorilla name strong and steady.

Starving cat freed after spending five weeks abandoned in a closed restaurant!
Cats Starving cat freed after spending five weeks abandoned in a closed restaurant!

Sadly, Fatou is now one of far too few western lowland gorillas left, as their populations have declined steeply due to deforestation, mining, and illegal hunting.

On the day that she turned 67, she was presented with a birthday basket full of fruit and veggies. Her zoo veterinarian, a man by the name of Dr. André Schüle, attributed her good health to her diet and said, "We pay a lot of attention to good nutrition for our animals."

"And especially with older animals like Fatou, we always adjust meals accordingly. In her old age, Fatou needs very soft food that she can chew well even without teeth."

Cover photo: Imago/Funke Foto Services

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