Grieving the death of India’s lone gorilla

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The 43-year-old male Western Lowland Gorilla was gifted to Mysore zoo by Dublin zoo 19 years ago

Visitors at the century-old Mysore Zoo will miss its star attraction as Polo, the only gorilla in an Indian zoo, died here on Saturday night.

The 43-year-old male Western Lowland Gorilla, which was gifted to Mysore zoo by Dublin zoo about 19 years ago, breathed its last around 10:45 pm. It was unwell since over a month and being treated by a team of veterinarians.

Zoo Executive Director B. P. Ravi said Polo was suffering from loss of appetite and appeared restive with hurried respiration and drooping of lower lip.

Though efforts were made continuously to feed him zinc, iron, multi-vitamins, oral antibiotics and pain killers with milk, tea and juices, he was averse to taking oral drugs. But there was slight improvement in his health after it was administered liver extracts and vitamin supplements, he explained.

“Yet, Polo’s condition started deteriorating since a fortnight with respiratory dyspnea and hurried thoracic respiration. Experts opined that symptoms of dyspnea and open mouth respiration could be due to respiratory tract infection and advised starting injectable antibiotics,” said Mr. Ravi.

The zoo vets managed to give antibiotics with bronchodilators for over a week. Though Polo showed little activity, there was no marked improvement in the health condition.

“Polo was having a bad cough for past two days and stopped eating food; his activities had noticeably come down. Finally, he did not respond to the treatment and died,” Mr. Ravi in a press release here.

Zoo veterinarians led by Dr. Suresh Kumar, physician Dr. Sunder Raj and other experts had continuously monitored Polo’s health condition.

Polo was without a companion for 18 years though the zoo made best efforts to bring a mate to him under animal exchange programme from zoos abroad.

The zoo staff have expressed deep grief over the death of Polo. “His fond memory remains forever,” Mr. Ravi said.

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