Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Portrait of a lady: Al Ain Zoo’s gorilla ‘owner’

A western lowlands gorilla named Lady is Al Ain Zoo's oldest resident.
Lady, a gorilla, is 39 and the oldest animal at Al Ain Zoo. The zoo is celebrating 45 years this month. Delores Johnson / The National
Lady, a gorilla, is 39 and the oldest animal at Al Ain Zoo. The zoo is celebrating 45 years this month. Delores Johnson / The National

She is a 39-year-old widow who loves watching Barney the dinosaur on TV and her best friend is a long-eared rabbit.

Lady is a western lowlands gorilla, a critically endangered species. She is Al Ain zoo’s oldest inhabitant, having been brought to the UAE from Cameroon in 1978, when she was just four years old.

“We consider her like the owner of the zoo because you feel like she knows everyone here,” said Muna Al Dhaheri. “We don’t know what’s in her mind. But I’m sure she’s knows everyone.”

Lady has lived alone since 1998, when her male companion, another gorilla named Maxi, died from natural causes.

Zoo officials thought about finding her another mate but decided she might not accept him because of her advancing age.

To keep her occupied she was given a TV and DVD player, and her favourite programme stars the purple Tyrannosaurus Rex, Barney.

Last April zookeepers thought Lady might be getting a bit lonely so found her another friend – a tan-coloured, long-eared domestic rabbit.

It was hoped the new companion would benefit her mental well-being and keep her from feeling lonely. The rabbit hangs out in Lady’s enclosure until evening.

“There’s a time when at night they have to go back to their bedrooms, and she will [try to] push the rabbit in with her,” said Ms Al Dhaheri.

lcarroll@thenational.ae

Updated: December 27, 2013 04:00 AM

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