by Max Brantley
ZOO NEWS RELEASE
The Little Rock Zoo mourns the loss of Kim, an elder chimpanzee living at the zoo since 1969 who died while sleeping in her favorite hammock bed Thursday evening.
Records on Kim’s arrival to the zoo estimate her birth date to be in 1961, however, zoo staff say she is likely to be older than records indicate because she was wild caught in Africa and there is no documented knowledge of her actual birth date.
Kim was suffering from congestive heart failure causing her health to rapidly decline in the last few months. It was only a matter of time before the chimp would pass away. Also, a preliminary necropsy on Kim late this afternoon found a massive tumor in her stomach that was probably cancerous.
Zoo staff say as Kim grew older she became increasingly needy and absent minded. Her friend Jodie, a chimp living with Kim at the Little Rock Zoo since 1970, would help Kim move around and eat and could often be seen with her arm around Kim’s shoulders. All the chimps, including the youngest male who used to tease Kim, became very generous and gentle toward Kim in her final days.
Kim was discovered lying in her favorite hammock this morning when zoo keepers arrived. Kim’s keepers described the passing as a “blessing” because the death was peaceful and painless.
“We were praying that God would take her while she slept and our prayers were answered,” said Ann Rademacher, great ape keeper.
Zoo staff described Kim as a gentle, mild mannered chimp who was friendly to the humans that worked with her. She was empathetic and emotional and became very upset when other chimps fought. Kim was wonderful with young chimps and served as a playmate for several of the chimps born at the Little Rock Zoo.
Kim gave birth to a male chimp named Gomez who currently lives at the Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita, KS. Gomez has sired numerous offspring making Kim a grandmother.