Things are different at the chimpanzee exhibit at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Rustie, a 23-year-old chimp, died Thursday. She passed away after being anesthetized for a medical exam.
"Animal care staff had been monitoring Rustie closely for a few days because she seemed lethargic and was reluctant to eat. When her symptoms continued and she refused to take oral antibiotics, she was anesthetized for an exam," said Rebecca Gullott, the Maryland Zoo's Mammal Collection and Conservation Manager. "Shortly after she was anesthetized, Rustie stopped breathing and efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful."
Details regarding her illness are pending closer examination of necropsy samples by Johns Hopkins University pathologists.
"It is likely that an excess of abnormal tissue at the back of Rustie's throat, the cause of which is still being examined, obstructed her airway during anesthesia and was the immediate cause of death," said Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior veterinarian for the Maryland Zoo.
Rustie came to the zoo from Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta, Ga., in 1995 as part of the first troop to move into the then-new Chimpanzee Forest.
She gave birth to the Zoo's first baby chimp, Raven, in 1995 and had a second, Rozi, in 2005. Rustie was a favorite chimp of many who worked with her over the years.
"Her playful nature and occasional stubborn streak made her one of the neatest animals I've had the privilege to work with," continued Gullott. "She will be fondly remembered by zoo staff, volunteers and guests."
The zoo now has a troop of 10 chimpanzees.