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Atlanta, GA, May 6, 2004:  In a break from our coverage of media and land takeover threats in Fupppsylvania, it is with great sadness that we report the death yesterday of the gentle giant, Caesar, the silverback gorilla.  In fine health just minutes before he was found not breathing in his room at Zoo Atlanta, it may be that Caesar's respiratory infection, from which keepers thought had recovered fully, got the best of him. However, his death may have been caused by other problems;  the zoo will be conducting examinations to determine what happened. 


Silverbacks ordinarily live well into their 30's.  Caesar had some health problems last year, which involved his respiratory system, but he was treated and found to be well in his exams before he was moved and after arrival in Atlanta.


You may recall our column about Caesar, March 27, "Gorilla Comes out of the Closet."  We wrote about how the 26 year old male, who had been childless, was shipped from the L.A. Zoo to Zoo Atlanta, with keepers hoping for offspring.  Unfortunately for them, Caesar did not mate there either. We wondered how the staff could ignore his obvious attraction for those of the same sex.  Signals were blatant, we felt.  We asked you, our visitors, to vote on whether he should be allowed to wed the boy of his dreams, and overwhelmingly you said, "Hail, Caesar!" (See poll results.)


At this point, our only concern is that Caesar be granted peace and the mate of his choice in the next world.  The humans at both zoos were inordinately fond of him, even if they didn't understand his proclivities. An article in the L.A. Times May 5 reports that one of the staff occasionally would toss him an orange, which he would catch with the "skill of a shortstop." There was clearly much affection in both directions, human to gorilla and vice versa.


We wish the zoo staffs, and all the friends Caesar had made in both gorilla compounds, peace at this time as well. 


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