22 Dec 2015

Wellington Zoo chimp dies after fight

6:04 am on 22 December 2015

One of Wellington Zoo's chimpanzees has died after a fight with the alpha male of the troop.

Temba

Temba Photo: Wellington Zoo

Temba had surgery on Saturday after clashing with Marty.

Vets at the zoo's hospital worked on him but he never recovered from the operation to repair his leg wounds and was euthanised on Saturday night

Keepers were waiting for the full results from a post-mortem examination.

But staff said it appeared Temba had existing health complications which would have prevented a full recovery from surgery.

"Chimpanzees have a complex social structure, and they tend to hide symptoms of illness to keep their place in the social structure, which means he hadn't shown any outward signs or symptoms of illness beforehand," Wellington Zoo said in a statement.

"We thank our Veterinary and Animal Care teams for all the work they did on Temba's behalf."

Animal lovers were quick to express their grief via social media.

"Very sad to hear this news, what a terrible shock it must be for all involved. Heartfelt condolences to Temba's chimpanzee family, and to the dedicated team who cared so much for him. You are in my thoughts, " Amy Atherton said on Facebook.

"Wellington keepers, I am so sorry for your loss for you and your team and the chimps themselves," wrote Laura Hanley.

Previously, Wellington Zoo described Temba as "the guy with the guns".

"Even though he's our strongest Chimp, he's a softie at heart. Chimpanzees have strong bonds with their mothers from infancy all the way through adulthood, and if Temba ever gets himself in trouble (which is often - he's a teenage boy, after all) he'll head straight over to mum Samantha for a hug.

"Temba is also a big brother to our youngest female, Malika, and he often shares his lunchtime apples with her," zoo staff wrote a year ago on Facebook.

The zoo had a troop of 13 chimps before Temba's death, between them costing $1000 a week to feed as they chomp through more than 50kg of food a day.