CLEVELAND -- Emmy, a 14-year-old gorilla brought from Columbus to mate with what proved to be an indifferent Timmy, died Monday of a suspected blood disorder, Cleveland Zoo officials said.
Zoo director Michael Vitantonio said Emmy, a local television star who was one of the zoo's most popular attractions, first showed signs of illness at noon Sunday, lapsed into a coma at 4 p.m. and died about 3 a.m. Monday.
'It was just like a person having terminal cancer,' said Vitantonio. 'There was nothing we could do except sit there and watch her deteriorate.'
The body was shipped to the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine for an autopsy. Vitantonio said zoo veterinarians did not feel her illness was contagious, but a close watch was kept on Timmy anyway.
Emmy was born at the Columbus Zoo in 1968 and came to Cleveland in March, 1981, on a breeding loan. Officials hoped she would mate with Timmy, a 410-pound male who had never been a father.
But Timmy, who had lived by himself for many years, was at first afraid of Emmy, and though later his feelings turned to acceptance and indifference, Vitantonio said they were friends, but never lovers.
'The ironic thing is that in the last few weeks, they were really making progress,' said Vitantonio.
'Timmy was not being so distant and the pair would often sit together and share food. We might have seen something later this year.'