by Max Brantley
ZOO NEWS RELEASE
The Little Rock Zoo is sad to report the loss of one of its most colorful characters, Richard, a chimpanzee living at the Zoo since 1988.
Richard was the alpha male of the Zoo's chimpanzee group. As the alpha, Richard was quick to defend his family and territory by throwing food, mud, and anything else he could get his hand on. "He would wind-up that arm and toss something right at you," said Zoo director Mike Blakely. "Richard was a favorite of our staff and visitors. His loss will be felt for a long time."
Richard died this morning while undergoing a medical examination by Dr. Marilynn Baeyens. A few days ago, great ape keepers noticed Richard was very quiet and was not as active. Dr. Baeyens anesthetized Richard and was performing an X-ray of his chest when the chimp suddenly stopped breathing. Dr. Baeyens, assisted by Zoo staff, administered an immobilization reversal to Richard and tried to revive him. Richard was pronounced dead after Dr. Baeyens and Zoo staff worked for more than an hour to revive him.
Dr. Baeyens says X-rays of Richard's chest show an enlarged heart more than three times the normal size for a male chimpanzee. Richard was taken today to the state lab for a necropsy. Preliminary results of the necropsy are expected in the next few days.
Richard was acquired by the Little Rock Zoo from the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Ind. in 1988. He is estimated to be around 32-years-old. Richard was wild caught and records of his birth date do not exist.