Nico, who was one of the world’s oldest silverback gorillas, has died aged 56.
According to Longleat Safari park, where he lived, Nico died in his sleep on Sunday (7 January).
The gorilla spent most of his life at the safari park in Wiltshire, UK, after arriving from Switzerland back in the 1980s.
A spokeswoman for Longleat Safari Park paid tribute as she shared the sad news on Facebook:
It is with deep regret and huge sadness that we have to announce the death of Nico, our much-loved western lowland gorilla.
Nico, who was one of the oldest silverback gorillas in the world, passed away in his sleep on 7th January.
Everyone here has been truly saddened by the death of Nico. His main keeper has been working with Nico virtually on a daily basis since 1989 and has forged an extraordinarily close bond with him. It goes without saying that he is particularly devastated by the loss along with the rest of his keeping team who have cared for Nico over the years.
We know that so many of you cared for Nico and have visited him over the years, so please join us in celebrating the life of such a magnificent creature – you are welcome to share memories or photos of him with us below, we’d love to see them all. These photos here are just a couple of our favourites – the Longleat Team.
One of Longleat’s most popular residents has died. Nico was believed to be the oldest silverback gorilla in Europe pic.twitter.com/2EjtLwiGrg
— BBC Wiltshire (@BBCWiltshire) January 9, 2018
Nico lived on his own island in the middle of a lake at Longleat, he had his own central-heated house, complete with pillars and a TV. Not only that, he had lookout stations, a giant tree trunk climbing frame and looked out over the park’s colony of three younger gorilla brothers Kesho, Evindi and Alf.
News of his death came with great sadness to visitors to the park who will have been used to seeing him there for around 30 years now.
Writing on Longleat’s post, Nicola Fry said:
He was part of my childhood and my sons. It was always great going on the boat to see if we would catch a glimpse or not. This past year was one of the best sightings I’ve seen of him. He will be missed by so many.
Gwen Rees added:
So so sad loved to see him are you getting another beautiful creature like him I know it won’t be the same but he was such a massive part of people coming to see him magnificent fellow.
And Ruth Randall paid this amazing tribute:
I first met Nico when he came to Yatesbury for the filming of Firstborn, a drama starring Charles Dance.
To stand a few feet away from him was an awe inspiring experience. He sniffed the air, with a look of pure distain on his face, beat his chest very loudly and charged at the side of his cage, grabbing the cage and shaking them with such force that the building shook! He scared the bejabers out of me! So sorry to hear of his passing. RIP big fella.
Rest in peace, Nico.