Polo, South Asia's only gorilla, dies at Mysore zoo

Polo, South Asia's only gorilla, dies at Mysore zoo

Primate was alone for 18 years, ever since it landed here

Polo, South Asia's only gorilla, dies at Mysore zoo

The Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens (Mysore zoo) lost one of its precious inmates, 43-year-old male gorilla Polo, late on Saturday night.

Polo, which was six-foot tall, dark-haired, well-behaved and bilingual, was the only primate in the country. It was born in 1972 and was received from Dublin Zoo, Ireland, on August 8, 1995. He was living a solitary life ever since he landed in the Mysore zoo.

B P Ravi, Executive Director, Mysore zoo, told Deccan Herald that the life span of gorilla is about 35 years, but Polo has outlived that and was active, except during his last days. The zoo’s efforts to get him a companion over the years were futile. He was a favourite among the visitors.

Polo is a western lowland gorilla, a native to Central Africa. Silverback gorillas — marked with a distinctive patch — are dominant males, which usually live in family groups in the wild. In the past one month, Polo preferred to stay out of his enclosure and used to sleep on his favourite swing, covering a blanket when it was cold. He responded to commands in both Kannada and English.

Ravi said Polo had lost appetite for a month. 

“He seemed to be restless with hurried respiration and drooping of lower lip. Liver extracts and vitamin supplements were administered, following which, he showed a little improvement. 

He was reluctant to oral drugs such as zinc, iron, multi-vitamins, oral antibiotics and pain killers with milk, tea and juice,” Ravi said. “The zoo tried to analyse the cause for the sudden ailment. 

As tranquilising the animal at old age and with poor health status was considered highly risky, detailed physical examination and sample collection for laboratory analysis were practically not possible,” he said.

For the past two weeks, Polo’s condition became worse with respiratory dyspnea and hurried thoracic respiration. 

In the last two days, his activities markedly decreased and he refused food almost completely. Finally, he did not respond to treatment and died, Ravi said.


Earlier, a pair of gorillas — Sugreeva and Sumathi — were the star attractions of the Mysore zoo. Sugreeva, the male gorilla, died within one year of being brought to the zoo. From then on, Sumathi lived a solitary life for more than 16 years. 

The zoo authorities corresponded with the authorities of the world’s leading zoos, seeking a male gorilla. In 1992, Bobo, a male gorilla, was brought from Tel Aviv in Israel. However, Bobo became diabetic and its forehand was amputated due to gangrene. Subsequently, it died. 

After four years, the zoo received Polo. Sumathi, who had aged considerably, died in 2001, due to cardiac arrest.

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