India’s ‘oldest’ chimpanzee dies at 59

Rita died due to multiple organ failure.

Rita died due to multiple organ failure.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Rita loved soft drinks and watching TV, say Delhi zoo officials

India’s “oldest” chimpanzee, Rita, 59, died at the Delhi zoo on Tuesday afternoon following multiple organ failure, said zoo officials.

Rita was born at a zoo in Amsterdam in 1960 and was acquired by the National Zoological Park here in 1964. “The animal died on October 1, 2019 at 12.15 p.m. despite our best efforts and the best healthcare management provided to her,” an official statement said.

Since July 27, the chimpanzee was only consuming fruit juices, milk and water. According to her post-mortem, conducted by a panel of veterinary doctors, the cause of her death was “multiple organ failure”. “The tissues of the organs have been sent to IVRI [Indian Veterinary Research Institute] for further examination,” the statement said.

A zoo official said Rita was like a small child. “She would respond when we spoke to her. I used to show her videos on my phone and she was very curious. Later, we put up a television for her and played videos of animals,” said the official, who has been working at the zoo for around seven years.

Zoo curator R.A. Khan said Rita liked “Maaza”, a mango-flavoured soft drink, and they used to give her medicines crushed in different juices.

“She was active when she had a male chimpanzee, Moni, as her partner. After Moni’s death in 2015, Rita was alone in the enclosure and she moved less, but people still wanted to see her,” the zoo official said.

Rita was one of the oldest surviving chimpanzees in India and had also entered the Limca Book of Records, said the statement. Zoo officials said the average lifespan of a chimpanzee is 40-50 years.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 4:17:26 AM |

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