All the Photos from Samantha the Gorilla’s 50th Birthday Celebration at the Cincinnati Zoo


The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens threw a very special birthday celebration for their 50-year-old gorilla named Samantha.

On the morning of Jan. 31, the public was invited to party with the oldest mammal at the zoo and watch her enjoy a "gorilla-sized cake," as well as a forest full of gorilla snacking favorites like forsythia, banana leaves, ficus, bamboo and fresh melons for her and her family to enjoy.

Samantha was born at the Cincinnati Zoo and was hand-raised with the assistance of Good Samaritan Hospital. She is one of 50 gorillas that have been born at the zoo, and also the longest-lived animal ever born there. According to a press release, Samantha is the sixth oldest out of the more than 360 gorillas in North America.

"Samantha is a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, matriarch, role model, record-setter, and an inspirational ambassador," the zoo said in a press release.

Samantha's birthday cake looked a little different than your typical birthday cake. Her care team used healthy ingredients specialized for her diet for its creation, including yogurt, fruit, nutritionally complete primate chow and some tasty surprises hidden within the cake.

Samantha is a Western lowland gorilla, an endangered species, with less than 175,000 still found in the wild, according to the zoo.

"Due primarily to habitat destruction caused by logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, wild gorilla numbers continue to shrink. The bushmeat trade — the killing of wild animals to be used as human food — is also a major threat to the western lowland gorilla population throughout the Central African rainforests," the zoo says.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens supports and contributes to wild gorilla conservation efforts that help to raise awareness about the issue, with local programs, documentaries and research.

| Photos by Kaitlyn Handel