Beloved silverback gorilla Tatu died Saturday afternoon after Oklahoma City zoo veterinarians noticed the 41-year-old gorilla's declining health, the Oklahoma City Zoo said.
In recent weeks, Tatu suffered a decreased appetite. Then, the gorilla suddenly lost the ability to use his legs on Thursday.
An MRI showed that Tatu had lower spinal cord compression associated with significant spinal arthritis.
A spinal surgeon determined surgery was not a likely option to correct the spinal compression, and the zoo's veterinarian health care team made the decision to humanely euthanize Tatu.
The team will also perform a necropsy.
Tatu had been unwell in late April and the veterinarian health care team found that Tatu had a severe tooth infection. Tatu recovered somewhat after treatment, but he remained off public view to rest.
The Oklahoma City zoo said Tatu lived beyond the median life expectancy of 31 years for male western lowland gorillas. Tatu moved in 1983 into the Oklahoma City zoo when he was 8 years old and quickly became a zoo icon and favorite face at the Great EscApe habitat.
The public is invited to post their favorite photos and memories of Tatu on social media on the zoo's Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.