The Little Rock Zoo says the facility's oldest chimpanzee, Jodie, has died.
Jodie died Tuesday after a medical examination performed by Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Marilynn Baeyens. Jodie, whose age is estimated to be at least 50-years-old, had been showing signs of advanced age for awhile.
The medical examination performed by Baeyens showed the chimp was experiencing impaired renal function. Baeyens anesthetized Jodie for the medical examination and she failed to recover from the anesthesia.
Jodie came to the Little Rock Zoo in 1970 from Vanderbilt University. Jodie's actual birth date is not known and is only an estimate because she was wild-caught. Records show Jodie is at least 50 but could potentially be older.
When Jodie arrived at the Little Rock Zoo she was a resident of "Chimp Island" which now serves as the Zoo's lemur exhibit. She was one of the first residents of the new chimpanzee exhibit built in 1988.
Jodie is one of the last generations of wild-caught apes. It is now illegal to import apes from the wild, and has been for many years. She was an important member of her chimpanzee family and was known by keepers for her calm and consistent personality which often served as a stabilizing influence on the group.
Jodie's longtime companion, Kim, passed away in 2007, and Jodie was often seen assisting the frail and forgetful chimp. In contrast to her warm and supportive relationship with the members of the chimp group, her relationship with people was aloof and distant. Her keepers had great respect for her uncompromising independence and often felt as though Jodie regarded them as inferior apes.