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Spain bids farewell to world's only albino gorilla
( 2003-11-25 09:17) (Agencies)

Spain on Monday bade farewell to the world's only known albino gorilla, Snowflake, a national favorite who died after a long struggle with skin cancer.

The world's only albino gorilla, Snowflake, plays with a rope in this November 13, 2003 file picture. Snowflake died in Barcelona's zoo early November 24 after a long struggle with skin cancer. [Reuters]
The main attraction at Barcelona zoo since he was brought there 37 years ago from Equatorial Guinea, Snowflake's fight with cancer made front-page news in Spain and brought thousands of well-wishers of all ages to see him.

Jordi Portabella, the zoo's director, told a news conference that Snowflake died early on Monday after veterinarians decided to have the animal put down to avoid further pain. His skin cancer was first discovered in 2001.

Queues stretched for hours outside Snowflake's enclosure in the months before his death. But the 140 kg (310 lb) giant, pumped full of painkillers and anti-depressants to ease his suffering, often preferred to turn his back on onlookers.

The 40-year-old gorilla, a lover of yogurt, will be cremated after DNA and other tests are run on his body. Zoo staff said they had no plans to dissect his body out of respect for his dignity.

Despite his gentle name, Snowflake was renowned for his ill temper and scowling, wrinkled expression. He fathered more than 20 children, appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine, and was a favorite with generations of Spanish kids.

Gorillas, one of mankind's closest relatives, are threatened with extinction as their jungle habitat is gradually destroyed. Illegal hunting and disease are decimating the principal populations of West Africa, according to conservationists.

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