When you take your children to visit the Louisville zoo next, they may notice that the large male gorilla is missing from the exhibit. Timmy was a mainstay at the Louisville zoo. If you visited there over the last seven years, you likely remember his gentle, brown eyes staring back at you. He was the oldest male gorilla in captivity and sadly he passed away Tuesday, August 2, 2011. He was 52 years old. Most male western lowland gorillas only live into their 40s, so Timmy had a long and happy life. According to Dr. Roy Burns, Louisville Zoo’s veterinarian, Timmy experienced multiple health problems in the last few years, including a heart condition. In the weeks leading up to his death, he began to deteriorate rapidly. The zoo chose to humanely euthanize him. “This is the most difficult decision zoo professionals have to make,” said Dr. Burns. “But we are confident that we made the right one.“ Explaining what happened to Timmy to your child may be a challenge. Very young children may not fully understand death and older children may grieve over the loss of a favorite zoo animal, particularly children with a deep love for animals. Kids Health suggests first and foremost that parents remain honest with children. If your child asks what has happened to Timmy, don’t tell the child he is visiting relatives. Instead, state the facts. “Timmy was sick and he died.” Your child may or may not have additional questions. Once you’ve honestly answered any questions, remind your child of the positive fact that the zoo has ten other western lowland gorillas to enjoy: Bengati, Demba, Cecil, Jelani, Helen, Kweli, Mia Moja, Kicho, Paki and Mshindi.
Lori is a full-time housewife and writer, living in the Midwest with her husband of 27 years - they have two daughters. They have a house full of pets and her house is never quite perfect.