Orphanaged gorillas at the Georgia Zoo have died after their parents had to bury them alive.
The zoo said Thursday that the three young gorillas, named Zara, Fartle and Phebe, died Thursday.
The zoo had no immediate word on their cause of death.
Orphaned gorillas are rare in the world, though a small number are still living at the Savannah Zoo in South Carolina, where they were born in 1978.
The gorillas have been part of the zoo’s Animal Welfare Department since 2001.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the three gorillas and their families during this very difficult time,” said Zara’s caretaker, L.T. Daugherty.
“We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the Georgia State Police, Savannah Animal Shelter, and the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for their assistance during this time.”
The zoo is planning a memorial service for the gorillas to be held on Friday, and will also host a vigil for them, according to a statement.