World’s oldest gorilla celebrates birthday at Berlin Zoo

World’s oldest gorilla celebrates birthday at Berlin Zoo

Fatou, the oldest known gorilla in the world, celebrated her 66th birthday this week at Berlin Zoo. The primate was gifted a basket of fruit, vegetables and edible flowers from the city's famous department store KaDeWe as part of the anniversary.

Fatou the gorilla turns 66 in Berlin

The world’s oldest known gorilla Fatou turned 66 in Berlin this week. On Wednesday the primate emerged from her nest to be greeted with a woven basket of blueberries, grapes, dragon fruits, kiwi, artichoke and a watermelon with “66” carved into its surface, picked up at KaDeWe no less.

Though her exact birthday is unknown, Berlin Zoo has picked out April 13 to mark the anniversary. Fatou has been the oldest gorilla in the world since 2019 when Trudy, a gorilla captive in the US who was around the same age as Fatou, died at 63 years old.

With her now salt-and-pepper coat, Fatou has long surpassed the life expectancy of her fellow primates living in the wild. But she is not the Zoo’s oldest resident, that title goes to Ingo the flamingo, who will be 75 this summer.

Sailor sold Fatou in Marseille before Berlin arrival

Fatou’s birthday celebrations were documented by hoards of photographers and fans standing at the edge of her pen, just as they did when she first touched down at the airport of Berlin-Tempelhof in 1959.

According to zookeepers the gorilla was born in West Africa and taken by a sailor to Marseille, where she was sold in a bar. Fatou was then bought by Berlin Zoo, which was expanding its gorilla exhibit at the time. In 1974, she gave birth to Dufte, the first gorilla to be born and raised in the German city.

Though recalling long-term memories was previously thought to be a capability singular to humans, more recent research into other primates’ experiences suggests that the animals can recall events in the distant past when presented with sensory reminders. Though Fatou is now past legal retirement age in Germany, she might be sharper than we think.

Thumb image credit: James K. Troxell /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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