Silverback gorilla Bokito, who caused headlines around the world after escaping from his enclosure at Blijdorp zoo in 2007 and attacking a woman, has died unexpectedly at the age of 27.
The Rotterdam zoo said Bokito fell ill on Sunday and died while under anesthesia for further research. The cause of death is not yet clear.
The zoo said the Blijdorp gorilla group was devasted by the death, as are the zoo keepers who cared for him. In 2021, Bokito and the rest of his group were diagnosed with coronavirus.
In May 2007, Bokito became world news when he jumped over a 3.5 metre ditch and attacked a woman. Fifty-seven year old Petronella Yvonne de Horde was a frequent visitor to the gorilla enclosure and according to her daughter believed she had a ‘special relationship’ with Bokito.
One keeper said the gorilla may not have found De Horde submissive enough when she sought eye contact with him. She was left with a broken wrist and lower arm, a crushed hand and dozens of bites.
Bokito was born in Berlin zoo and raised by hand in Germany. He was sent to Blijdorp in 2005 as part of a European breeding programme. He fathered 10 babies, the most recent of which was born in February.
In 2007 Bokito-proof won the competition to find the Van Dale dictionary’s new word of the year.
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