Updated: Nov 1, 2020
So how can it be that an animal that is no longer with us, has been gone for over 5 years still to this day elicits such deep-felt and loving comments from those who knew him?
“What a wonderful father he was! Great memories of him!”
“Oh how I miss Fossey! Such a great Silverback, such a great father!”
“What a great experience that was.”
“Fossey represented the best of those times for us at Columbus - his birth, his story, his relationship with his father, Bongo. I will be forever grateful that he ended up in Little Rock with such phenomenal keepers.”
Today a colleague from the Little Rock Zoo posted a video of a silverback gorilla named Fossey playing with his young son Mosi back in 2009. Fossey was born at the Columbus Zoo in August of 1986, raised by his mother and father – a huge milestone at Columbus and for our gorilla husbandry program. When Fossey was 14-months-old his mother Bridgette passed away and his father Bongo took over the sole care of his beautiful infant boy. We keepers were not the only ones who loved him to distraction, his father simply and completely adored him.
At the age of 4, Bongo died leaving Fossey alone – an orphan. Fossey although raised with unequivocal love was the byproduct of great tragedies, his character forged through heartache. Perhaps it was the many losses, the sadness that he felt, the sense of losing his mooring especially after his father passed that shaped such a gentle and kindly creature.
Fossey died in August of 2015 leaving a gaping hole in the hearts of all who cared for him both humans at the Little Rock and Columbus zoos but most especially the members of his gorilla family. He was the culmination of his parent’s life in captivity, his personality shaped by their love and nurturing, and his story represented great changes long overdue within the zoo world – Fossey was game-changer.
Below: Fossey playing with his son, Mosi. Turn the sound up to hear their laughter.
Recorded at the Little Rock Zoo in 2009, video courtesy of Ann Rademacher.