A 31-year-old chimpanzee died Wednesday at Chimp Haven from what sanctuary officials believed were natural causes.
Staff members found Woodruff, who was unconscious and not breathing, in his indoor bedroom about 1 p.m. and tried to revive him, according Linda Brent, Chimp Haven president and director. He had lived at the chimp retirement center since it opened in April 2005.
Woodruff, referred to as "Woodie" by the staff, is the first chimp that has died at the facility, Brent said.
"He's actually a favorite of everybody's," Brent said. "He was gentle and sweet. He liked people a lot."
The exact cause of the chimpanzee's death is unknown, but staff veterinarians were beginning an autopsy Wednesday afternoon. Final results are expected in two to three weeks, Chimp Haven spokesman Rick DelaHaya said.
Woodie had known health problems, DelaHaya said, including heart trouble and difficulty walking, but those appear to be a result of old age and not the research in which he had been involved. He was kept in an area for medical care not normally seen by visitors.
Chimps older than 30 are considered old, DelaHaya said. Chimp Haven's oldest resident is 54. It's youngest is 14.