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First gorilla born in NYC dies at 40 at the Bronx Zoo

Pattycake was a crowd favorite at the Bronx Zoo, where she had lived since 1983. She has 10 children.


Pattycake was a crowd favorite at the Bronx Zoo, where she had lived since 1983. She has 10 children.

NEW YORK — Pattycake, the first gorilla born in New York City, 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 Sunday and said a necropsy would be performed to determine the cause of death. It said Pattycake surpassed the median life span for gorillas in zoos, which is 37 years old.

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‘‘Millions of children in New York City grew up with Pattycake at the Bronx Zoo,’’ said Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo and executive vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society. ‘‘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 while playing with her parents. She recovered after an hourlong operation, after which she stayed at the Bronx Zoo to recuperate.

In 1983, she became a resident of the Bronx Zoo, where she became a highlight for children visiting the zoo on school trips.

Two books were written about Pattycake. She had 10 infants while at the Bronx Zoo, including twins born in 1995. Her offspring live in zoos throughout the country, including Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Louisville, and Omaha.

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

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