Spanish ethologist who discovered albino gorilla dies at 87

August 6, 2009
Catalan primatologist Jordi Sabater Pi speaks to journalists in 2003. Pi, who discovered the only albino gorilla known to man in the 1960s, has died at the age of 87, the University of Barcelona said Thursday.

Spanish ethologist Jordi Sabater Pi, who discovered the only albino gorilla known to man in the 1960s, has died at the age of 87, the University of Barcelona said Thursday.

Pi, a professor at the university's faculty of psychology where he pioneered the study of and primatology in Spain, passed away on Wednesday, it said in a statement.

He found the albino gorilla in 1966 in Equatorial Guinea -- then a Spanish colony -- when the primate was being held in captivity by a hunter belonging to the Fang tribe.

Pi brought the animal to Spain, where it lived at the Barcelona zoo until its death from skin cancer in 2003.

The gorilla -- named "Copito de Nieve" or "Snowflake" -- was featured on postcards and mentioned in tourist guides, becoming an unofficial mascot for the city and famous around the world.

Pi lobbied actively for the protection and conservation of primates.

He once said Snowflake should be used "to promote the defence of large primates" because "if we don't do anything, there will no longer be any in 30 years".

(c) 2009 AFP

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