February 1, 2024

Zoo Saddened by the Passing of Mrithi the Gorilla


The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium is saddened to announce the death of its silverback western lowland gorilla Mrithi – the first gorilla born at the Zoo in the early 1990s.

Mrithi had recently been exhibiting mobility problems and spinal issues were suspected. Despite medical treatment, the 31-year-old gorilla went into a sudden decline this week and passed away today during an anesthetic procedure to help determine the cause of his symptoms.

Mrithi’s birth on June 1, 1992 to parents Mimbo and Zakula was a cause of great celebration, as he was the first gorilla ever born locally at the Pittsburgh Zoo. From that day on, Mrithi (whose name means “prince” in Swahili) was one of the Zoo’s most popular residents as generations of visitors watched him mature from a wide-eyed infant to an impressive silverback. Mrithi became silverback of the group in 2005 after the passing of his father. He sired three offspring with Moka: Ivan (born April 11, 2013), Frank (born May 25, 2018), and, most recently last summer, Bo (born May 11, 2023). He is also the father of Charlotte, who was born last Valentine’s Day to Ibo.

“Mrithi was a wonderful father and played often with his boys,” said Karen Vacco, Assistant Mammal Curator. “It wasn’t unusual to arrive in the morning to happy rumbles (gorilla laughing) coming from the gorilla bedrooms to find a ball of rolling gorillas with Mrithi in the middle. His favorite thing in the summer was to roll in the pool then tumble in the grass to dry off.”

Native to the rainforests of Africa’s Congo Basin, western lowland gorillas are currently listed as critically endangered with a rapidly diminishing population. In their native habitat, these animals have a lifespan of 30-40 years.

Mrithi leaves behind a legacy of gorilla conservation as his offspring continue to reside at the Zoo. Mrithi will be greatly missed by both staff and thousands of visitors. Zoo guests are welcome to share their memories of this beloved gorilla on our social media pages.