Today we have lost a much-loved member of the Zoo family with the sudden passing of Rigo, the Silverback Western Lowland Gorilla this morning.
Rigo died at 8:40am today of what appears to be a heart attack after he collapsed suddenly and was unresponsive to resuscitation.
Rigo arrived at Melbourne Zoo from Holland on May 23, 1973 as a three-year-old. His future mate Yuska arrived at the same time.
In 1984 Rigo and Yuska made history when they became the parents of the first gorilla ever born in Australia: Mzuri.
Mzuri was also the world’s first-ever successful gorilla birth achieved as a result of artificial insemination. As part of the international endangered species breeding program, Mzuri was later selected to become the breeding male at Jersey Zoo, producing three offspring.
We are all very saddened about the loss of a great friend, as we know you will be. We have set up a tribute to Rigo through our Zoos Victoria facebook page. You are welcome to leave messages of condolence on this page or through twitter @ZoosVictoria using the #ValeRigo.
A post mortem will be carried out at the University of Melbourne Veterinary School, with preliminary results due later today.