Vip, a 42-year-old western lowland gorilla, died Thursday morning, according to Woodland Park Zoo.
The charming and handsome fellow fathered seven daughters, including Woodland Park Zoo’s 5-year-old Yola.
He had been lethargic and not eating for the past few weeks, but an examination did not reveal anything of note, the zoo said.
Vip, short for Very Important Primate, was the first zoo gorilla to be born in the Netherlands. He arrived in Seattle by van in 1996 after he was booted from a cross-country flight for having a tantrum during a layover. He had previously been at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.
“Losing one of our gorillas is deeply sad for our zoo family. During his 25 years at Woodland Park Zoo, Vip was dearly loved by the zoo’s staff, volunteers, members, donors, visitors and the community. In his own right, he became a very important primate to all of us,” Martin Ramirez, curator of mammals at Woodland Park Zoo, said in an announcement of Vip’s passing.
“Vip was a very striking gorilla. While zoo guests would mistakenly think he was grumpy because of his very low brow ridge, he was quite the opposite. He was an excellent companion and took great interest in each of his daughters,” added Ramirez.
“As an attentive dad, he led his group with patience, playfulness and kindness. This is a very difficult time for us and a great loss for the North American gorilla population. We will really miss this amazing, very important primate.”
The average life expectancy for a male lowland gorilla is 32 years. A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, the zoo said.
Vip is survived by his female companion, Jumoke.