47-year-old Oregon Zoo chimpanzee passes away

On Monday, Leah, one of the Oregon Zoo’s oldest residents, died peacefully in her sleep.

Chimpanzee Leah in the new Primate Forest outdoor habitat. © Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham.

“This is a difficult loss for the zoo as a whole, but especially for her care team,” said Dr. Carlos Sanchez, the zoo’s lead veterinarian.

“I hope that knowing that we did everything we could for Leah and that she died peacefully in her sleep brings you some consolation.”

Leah is survived by her big sister Delilah, who will be 49 next month; Jackson, the male chimp, who is 50; and Chloe, the troop leader, who is 53.

When Leah was born in 1974, the Oregon Zoo’s work with chimps garnered the attention of primatologist Jane Goodall.

Leah and the other chimps at the zoo contributed to Goodall and the Oregon Zoo’s decades-long “relationship.”

Goodall paid regular visits to Leah and the others.

According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, female chimps in zoos have a life expectancy of 41.7 years, while wild chimps have a life expectancy of roughly 33 years.

“Her amazing age says a lot about the great care she’s had over the years,” Dr. Sanchez remarked.


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