(AP) — The oldest male chimp living in a North American accredited zoo
died Saturday at the age of 63 at the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens.
Cobby, the chimp, was a hand-reared performing chimp before being brought to the San Francisco zoo in the 1960s. Although the chimp's cause of death
has not been determined, the animal had recently been ill, and zoo officials believe old age was a factor.
Chimpanzees are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation
, and they are among Africa's most endangered primates due to hunting
, habitat loss, and disease.
According to the zoo, the average life expectancy of the 100,000 to 200,000 wild chimps is 33 years, while it is between 50 and 60 years in human care.
Cobby, who acted as the troop's elder, was instrumental in bringing the San Francisco Zoo's chimp population together, according to officials.
Tanya M. Peterson, executive director of the San Francisco Zoological Society, said in a statement, "Cobby was part of San Francisco. He touched so many lives, and people
have so many memories of him. He is irreplaceable, and our hearts are broken. We will all miss seeing his handsome grey beard watching over us from the top platform of the yard."