Xebo, one of the gorillas at the Barcelona Zoo, has passed away

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05/02/2024
Imatge

The elderly animal arrived at the Barcelona Zoo in 1996 and was part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s (EAZA) ex situ conservation programme (EEP)    

This is a critically endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Barcelona Zoo has lost one of its oldest residents, Xebo the gorilla. The elderly animal passed away last night after a period of decline that could not be reversed despite the attentive care of the zoo’s veterinary team and keepers. 

Xebo was 38 years old, exceeding the maximum life expectancy for this species in its natural habitat. The animal was born in Rotterdam Zoo on 6 October 1985 and came to Barcelona Zoo in 1996 as part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s (EAZA) ex situ conservation programme (EEP). 

During his 27 years at Barcelona Zoo, Xebo lived with other female gorillas, his sons and daughters, and a granddaughter. He had four partners during this period: Kena, Virunga, Machinda and Makena. 

He was friendly, protective of his gorilla clan and welcoming to the keepers at Barcelona Zoo, whom he considered part of the group. He enjoyed playing with his fellow gorillas and also engaged in a lot of play and interaction with the Zoo’s staff. 

Through this interaction and collaboration with his keepers, Xebo helped to advance our understanding of gorillas, establishing Barcelona Zoo as a European benchmark in the care and welfare of these animals. 

A critically endangered species

Xebo was a western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), one of the four subspecies of gorilla found in central West Africa. Specifically, these animals inhabit southern Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and northern Angola. 

This species is critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and is part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s (EAZA) ex situ conservation programme, EEP, of which Xebo was a member. 

These gorillas live in stable groups of around ten and are led by an adult breeding male, commonly known as a “silverback” due to the distinctive silver-grey hair on their backs. The main causes of their critically endangered status are deforestation for agricultural expansion, mineral extraction, poaching, illegal trade and hunting for meat. 

In addition to Xebo, this ex situ conservation programme for western lowland gorillas has 462 individuals in 69 facilities across Europe. Barcelona Zoo participates in this programme mainly by raising awareness of the need to preserve the natural habitat of this critically endangered species. It also contributes to numerous research projects.

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