Pattycake, first gorilla born in NYC, dies at 40

Pattycake, the first gorilla born in New York City, died in the Bronx Zoo at the age of 40 on March 31, 2013, zoo officials said. Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

NEW YORK Pattycake, the first gorilla born in New York City, has died at the Bronx Zoo. She was 40 years old and suffering from chronic cardiac problems.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the zoo, made the announcement on Sunday and said a necropsy was performed to determine the cause of death, but didn't announce the results. It said Pattycake surpassed the median life span for gorillas in zoos, which is 37 years old.

"Millions of children in New York City grew up with Pattycake at the Bronx Zoo," said Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo and WCS Executive Vice President and General Director of Zoos & Aquarium. "Pattycake was a very special animal and her presence will be deeply missed."

Pattycake was born at the Central Park Zoo on Sept. 3, 1972 and lived there with her parents Kongo and Lulu. She made news at 5 months old when she suffered a broken arm. In 1983, she went to live at the Bronx Zoo. Two books were written about her: "Gorilla Baby: The Story of Pattycake," and "Gentle Gorilla: The Story of Pattycake."

She had 10 infants while at the zoo, including twins born in 1995. Her offspring live in zoos in Boston, Buffalo, N.Y., Detroit, Louisville, Omaha, Neb., and Utah.

The Wildlife Conservation Society said Pattycake was the 31st oldest gorilla of 338 living in North American zoos.

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