Little Rock Zoo announces death of Brutus the gorilla

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The Little Rock Zoo announced Friday Brutus, a treasured member of the Western Lowland gorilla group, passed away.

According to a news release, Brutus failed to recover from anesthesia after a medical examination on Thursday.

Zoo officials say the 42-year-old silverback was having gastrointestinal complications and after several months of treatment, the issues had not resolved.

Brutus was known as one of the most engaging members of the Little Rock Zoo family, according to officials.

Brutus came to the Little Rock Zoo from the Brownsville Zoo on November 26, 1980. Brutus was born in the Los Angeles Zoo.

Zoo officials say Brutus loved to watch people and interact with them.

“I remember once when I was trying to bring Brutus inside for the night and he was not cooperating,” Catherine Tidwell, one of the gorilla’s keepers, recalled. “He was leaning in the doorway looking at what was for dinner. All the sudden, I heard a little girl shout out about his size. Brutus quickly took that as a cue and went to the middle of the grass, plopped down with feet out, and started to make silly faces. This is one of numerous times that Brutus would choose to show off to his adoring audience instead of coming inside. Food wasn’t enough of an incentive; he could eat later. He needed to soak up his people before they left.”

“[The thing] that made him unique was that he would look you directly in the eye,” said Syd Tanner, who formerly was a keeper for Brutus. Tanner added Brutus would spend hours laying on his stomach on the grass watching people pass by.

“Brutus was a tremendous flirt, he seemed to be quite aware of how he affected people,” said Anne Rademacher, who was also a keeper for Brutus. “He adored being adored.”

“He was an individual whose charisma impacted everyone- the public, his keepers and other staff,” said his newest keeper, Amanda Osborne. “Brutus loved to blow kisses to the public which was such a unique trait that visitors had the chance to experience, it would even make me laugh. Just the other morning, I was feeding him breakfast and he was making kissing noises to flirt and get my attention.”

“There are so many memories, stories and anecdotes to share about Brutus. He is a cherished member of the Little Rock Zoo family. To say that he will be missed and that his absence is felt is an understatement. We are glad to know he had a good home with us here,” said Little Rock Zoo Director Susan Altrui.

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