Uganda’s conservation and tourism fraternity is mourning the death of the oldest chimpanzee.
Zakayo, 54, Uganda’s known oldest chimpanzee died at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC).
UWEC’s Executive Director James Musinguzi confirmed the development while speaking to Daily Monitor.
Musinguzi said Zakayo started feeling unwell about 3 weeks ago and has been on treatment until yesterday.
Preliminary findings indicate that he succumbed to Chronic Gastroenteritis.
“Due to his old age, he was highly susceptible to opportunistic infections. Please join us as we celebrate the life of this legendary chimpanzee who once lived as a dominant male and brought up the chimpanzee family at UWEC,” said Musinguzi.
According to Musinguzi, Zakayo nurtured two Alpha male chimpanzees, Matooke, who led the group up to 2013, and Aluma who took over in 2013 up to today.
Report indicate that Zakayo survived with two daughters; Aminah and Ruth.
Zakayo was found abandoned on June 10, 1964 in Semiliki National Park in Bundibugyo District and was hand raised by a white man who surrendered him to UWEC on June 19, 1976 as he was becoming aggressive and difficult to manage. He used to stay in a cage and visitors would tease him, offer him cigarettes and alcohol, which would make him very excited.
Although Zakayo had by 2012 lost his alpha male position he still commanded a lot of respect from the group, instilling order and peace when there were group fights and made sure that everyone entered the enclosure or exited it before he did, which defined his caring character.