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Beloved Gorilla Dies When People Try To Move Him To Another Zoo

Bantu, a 24-year-old Western lowland gorilla living at Mexico City's Chapultepec Zoo, died of a heart attack on Wednesday after zookeepers sedated him for transport to another zoo 340 miles away.

Bantu was being moved so that he could mate with two females in the distant zoo.

Protocols had been followed, according to the zoo, and 20 doctors and experts were involved in the effort to move him.

Still Bantu had a sudden heart attack after he was given the sedative. For 30 minutes, people tried to resuscitate him, but Bantu's heart finally failed.

There's always a risk when zoo animals are moved from one facility to another. And transporting them for breeding purposes is common.

"People have this idea that they go to a zoo and there is this individual zoo and here are the zoo's animals," Irus Braverman, professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and author of "Zooland," told The Dodo last year. "But in fact, it is more like an ecosystem in a way, as artificial as it may be."

Animals can die in the moving process, even when precautions are taken. In 2008, zookeepers at the Calgary Zoo in Canada opened the crate containing a 6-year-old hippo named Hazina and found that she couldn't stand up because of circulatory problems stemming from lying down for too long. A day later, she was dead.

Transporting marine mammals, like dolphins, can be even more complex and risky. In January, a 33-year-old dolphin died just after being moved to SeaWorld Orlando.

"Whenever you move exotic animals it is stressful." Ron Kagan, director of the Detroit Zoo, told The Dodo last year. "And that is one of the biggest challenges for any zoo ... Whether it's an elephant or a tiger or a frog, every move has an element of stress, and some are bigger than others."

People turned to social media to express their sorrow for Bantu, many referring to Harambe, another gorilla who died earlier this year after a toddler climbed into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Gorillas can live into their 50s. But Bantu died in the zoo where he was born.

"This incident has caused great consternation among zoo personnel who cared for him for nearly 25 years," the zoo's statement on Bantu's death said.