Sick 59-Year-Old Chimpanzee Meets Professor And Caretaker For The Last Time
chimpanzee and the matriarch of the famous chimpanzee colony of the Royal Burgers Zoo in Arnhem, the Netherlands, was gravely ill. Jan van Hooff, emeritus professor of behavioral biology at Utrecht University and co-founder of the Burgers colony, who has known Mama since 1972, visited her in the week before she died of old age in April 2016.Mama, 59 years old and the oldest
She was so ill, she refused to take any food or water. Her lethargic state was getting worse by the minute. She kept her eyes trained on a blank spot somewhere in the distance and she wouldn’t interact with anyone. It took a while before she became aware of Jan's presence. Her reaction was extremely emotional and heart-breaking. They hugged and talked for awhile, until what energy she had left dwindled down. She gave him the most precious toothless smile ever. She was very happy to see him one last time, after all, they had known each other for years.
Mama played an important social role in the colony. This has been described in "Chimpanzee Politics" by Frans de Waal, who studied the colony since 1974. The sweet and loving character of Mama will be missed by many.