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Gorilla That Had Been Ill Dies at L.A. Zoo

November 10, 2000|LOUIS SAHAGUN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 22-year-old gorilla that had suffered a miscarriage and at least two strokes in recent weeks died Thursday at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Cleo, was born at the zoo, had been scheduled to undergo a brain scan to determine the causes of a variety of illnesses that began Oct. 19 with flu-like symptoms and depression.

But before zoo veterinarians could anesthetize her for the procedure, her keeper of 16 years discovered her in the back of her exhibit, apparently not breathing.

Cleo was rushed to the zoo's health center, but veterinarians could not resuscitate her.

"This is a tremendous loss for the Los Angeles Zoo and its community," said general curator Michael Dee. "A female gorilla, especially Cleo because she is from wild-caught parents, is very important to the survival of the species. This is a very sad time for us."

Cleo suffered a stroke about a week after she was treated for a cough and depression, said zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca. On Oct. 31, veterinarians and other doctors checked Cleo and found that she had miscarried after a five-month pregnancy.

A few days later, Cleo suffered a seizure and lost much of her vision, LaMarca said. Veterinarians had scheduled the brain scan to check for neurological damage.

The cause of her death was not immediately known.

Cleo is survived by one offspring at the zoo, 13-year-old Kelly.

The zoo has been beset by problems in the gorilla compounds. A month ago, the zoo was evacuated when 24-year-old Evelyn escaped for about an hour and 15 minutes. A week before that, a gorilla jumped out of one compound and into another.

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