Home / News & Diaries » Zoo News » Much loved chimp, Chima, dies

Much loved chimp, Chima, dies

Zoo News - Posted 8 April 2015

Chima web

In a tragic turn of events, Chima was attacked and badly bitten after being introduced to the dominant male, Luka. Zoo staff worked around the clock to try and save Chima, with several staff members sleeping next to her enclosure after the attack. 

Zoo Director Stephen Standley says a plan for integrating Chima with the other chimpanzees had been prepared well in advance of her arrival. It was based on knowledge of general chimp behaviour as well as the behaviour of the individual chimps involved, including Chima. A key element of the plan was early introduction to provide Chima with social opportunities as soon as possible. Chima was successfully integrated with two females, Sally and Sanda without incident, Mr Standley says.

The altercation with Luka lasted only two minutes and the chimpanzees were separated by keepers. Chima had severe bite wounds to her neck, legs and bottom and these were stitched under general anaesthetic.  She was given round the clock care over the next five days and some of the zoo team slept in the chimp house during this time.

“Sadly Chima passed away just after midnight on Saturday, and the post mortem indicates probable cause of death was brain trauma sustained in the original attack,” he says. “Staff at Hamilton and Wellington zoos are devastated by Chima’s death.  Chimpanzees are extremely intelligent and their behaviour can be unpredictable, especially when introducing them to new chimpanzees.”

Zoo vet, Micah Jensen, tried to save Chima.

“Many of us spent many late nights with Chima, often sleeping in the chimp house, and setting up a mini ICU unit to try to bring her back to us. We even placed Sally, one of the other female chimps, in the den next to Chima to encourage her to recover. It was a heart-breaking night when Chima did not wake up from her final anaesthetic.”

A team of highly trained specialists worked to keep Chima alive, and Dr Jensen passes on her thanks

“Hamilton Zoo would like to say thank you to all the veterinary and human medical specialists and staff who provided consultation, equipment and supplies often at odd hours over the Easter break, to help give her the best care we could. This included staff from Massey Vet Hospital, Wildbase, Waikato Hospital, Waikato After Hours Veterinary Hospital, Gribbles Pathology, Wellington Zoo and Braemar hospital. Our special thanks to Isobel Gibson and Alan Julian the pathologists from New Zealand Veterinary Pathology who came in especially on Easter Sunday to help with Chima."

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