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Demba, 50-year-old gorilla at Louisville Zoo, dies

Demba was diagnosed with endocarditis in 2013, living for seven more years until her quality of life started to decline.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Zoo announced it has euthanized Demba, a 50-year-old gorilla that has been at the zoo since December 2006.

Zoo officials said Demba was diagnosed with endocarditis, an infection of the heart's inner lining, in 2013. While she was able to survive for seven years, the zoo said her quality of life started to decline.

"Keepers and veterinary staff have been closely monitoring her as her heart disease progressed," the zoo said. "As Demba’s quality of life recently declined, staff deliberated and decided that euthanasia was the most appropriate option."

"Demba’s story is one we are all very proud of," said Dr. Zoli Gyimesi, senior staff veterinarian. "To diagnose, treat, and survive a bout of endocarditis was remarkable, and then to manage her condition in the years following is a testament to the great care provided to the animals."

Demba was born at the Dallas Zoo and spent time at the Philadelphia Zoo before coming to Louisville. She was housed with Helen, the second oldest western lowland gorilla in the world at age 63. The zoo said the median life expectancy of a female gorilla in managed care is about 39 years.

The zoo said a necropsy and complete pathologic examination will be performed.

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