Thursday, March 26, 2009

R.I.P. Kipper

Mom just told me that Kipper, a 9-year-old chimp at her zoo, died on Tuesday in the zoo hospital from pneumonia. He was the youngest member of Hank's group, the chimp group on exhibit at the zoo's Regenstein Center for African Apes. Even though I've never met Kipper, I am saddened by his death.

Kipper and the other members of his group got sick last week with a mysterious upper respiratory infection. Why is it mysterious? Because no one knows where it came from. Zookeepers follow very strict protocols when dealing with primates because they can transmit diseases to the animals and vice-versa. It is possible that an infected animal like a squirrel could have passed something on to the chimps. Mom thinks this may be a possibility because a chimp in Hank's group has been known to kill squirrels and then drape them over their shoulders like a cape. How silly is that? The chimp habitat has big glass doors that are open to the outside on nice days so that the chimps can go outside at their leisure. Likewise, animals like birds, squirrels, bunnies, chipmunks, etc. can also come inside.

The chimps began displaying flu-like symptons last Thursday. Mom did not visit them when she was there on Friday because she was busy with a tour and with some snakes. The chimps were still on exhibit on Friday, but taken off exhibit and put in quarantine over the weekend as their conditions worsened.

Kipper had a congenital condition that zoo officials think may have decreased the pumping capacity of his lungs. He took a turn for the worse on Monday and was transferred to the hospital. Mom has been in the hospital and says that it is really cool. Did you know that every animal at the zoo goes to the hospital once a year for a complete physical?

Kipper was watched around the clock after arriving at the hospital and appeared to be doing better, until he was left alone for 20 minutes. When someone arrived to check on him, he had stopped breathing and could not be revived.

The rest of Hank's group are still ill and in isolation so they don't infect other chimps and gorillas in the zoo's Regenstein Center for African Apes. They are all being watched very closely and none of them are seriously ill. Thankfully, none of the other chimps and gorillas have shown any symptoms of illness.

Mom wants everyone to know that zookeepers take great care of their animals. The animals are treated like family, so the death of an animal is like a death in the family. The zoo did all it could to save Kipper, but like Mom always says, when it's your time, it's your time. Kipper will be remembered by everyone that visited him at the zoo and by chimp lovers everywhere.


Pearl said...

I'm so sorry to hear this! My condolences to all who knew and loved Kipper, including your Mom.


Stubby said...

Pearly Poo - Thanks so much for stopping by. Mom said that Kipper was such a clown and that he made everyone laugh. I am hoping that one day Mom will sneak me into the zoo so that I can check out all the animals. Stubby xoxo