By DailyNewsUg Correspondent
Wildlife conservationists are in mourning following the death of Uganda’s oldest Chimpanzee Zakayo.
Zakayo who turned 54 last year passed on Thursday afternoon, officials from UWEC have confirmed.
“With deep sorrow and grief, UWEC (Entebbe Zoo) hereby announces the death of Zakayo, a 54-year old male chimpanzee, who has lived at UWEC for 42 years. Preliminary findings suggest that he succumbed to Chronic Gastroenteritis. Due to his old age, he was highly susceptible to opportunistic infections,” a statement from UWEC reads in part.
“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. He nurtured two Alpha male chimpanzees, Matooke, who led the group up to 2013, and Aluma who took over in 2013 up to today. May his soul RIP,” the statement continues.
On June 10, 1964, Zakayo then aged one year was rescued from Bundibugyo by a white man who kept him until he was 14. He then surrendered him to UWEC at Entebbe in 1976 making Zakayo the alpha male until when he handed over power in 2011 to Matooke, another chimpanzee.
However, Matooke’s reign was short-lived as he was overthrown in a coup by another younger chimpanzee named Aluma.
“Due to his old age, he was highly susceptible to opportunistic infections,” reads the statement.
According to UWEC, Zakayo nurtured two Alpha male chimpanzees, Matooke, who led the group up to 2013, and Aluma who took over in 2013 up to date.
UWEC will hold a vigil for Zakayo on Friday at UWEC beach starting at 6pm followed by his burial on Saturday.
By the time of his death, Zakayo was the most popular chimpanzee in the country. Chimpanzees according to statistics have a life span of 60 years in captivity and 45 in the wild.