One of the oldest silverback gorillas in the world has died at the age of 56.
Nico, who lived at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, UK, died in his sleep on Sunday, Jan. 7.
The gorilla lived in an island in the middle of a lake in a purpose-built home equipped with his own satellite television so he could watch his favourite cartoons.
He shared the island with his mate Samba until she passed away in 2007.
His keeper, who had worked with Nico daily since 1989, was said to be “devastated” after developing an “extraordinarily close bond with him”.
“Nico was one of the oldest gorillas in the world and we all knew he could not live forever, however the fact he had become such a part of life here at Longleat makes it all the more upsetting to know he has now gone,” Darren Beasley, Head of Animal Operations at Longleat, said in a statement.
Longleat said on Facebook that they had been “absolutely blown away by the phenomenal outpouring of love for Nico”.
Wildlife expert Ben Fogle tweeted: “I spent 15 happy years knowing magnificent Nico. My deepest sorrow to everyone who knew him”.
Many people posted their images and memories of the gorilla onto Longleat’s Facebook page.
According to one post, Nico was the fourth oldest gorilla in captivity and the oldest male. The oldest are three 61-year-old female gorillas, one in Germany, and two in the USA.
Nico may have been older than 56 since his birth date has not been reliably ascertained. He was brought to the UK from Switzerland in 1986 and once weighed 34 stone.