Albuquerque, New Mexico – A 22-year-old chimpanzee named Thunder died on July 9 at the ABQ BioPark Zoo. According to a release from the zoo, Thunder had begun showing signs of a gastrointestinal illness in early July and his condition deteriorated rapidly on the day that he died.
The release states:
Like all apes at the BioPark, Thunder is trained to participate in his own healthcare. Thanks to the trust and incredibly strong bond he has formed with his caretakers, Thunder actively ate, drank and took medication during his illness. He responded very well on some days, and staff had high hopes for his recovery. However, Thunder declined quickly on Saturday, and veterinary staff were unable to revive him.
The zoo stated that Thunder tested positive for Shigella bacteria and it is believed that he contracted the bacteria from an asymptomatic carrier in the troop. No other chimpanzees at the zoo are showing signs of infection, but they are being monitored closely for any changes in behavior.
Thunder and his sister, Rainy, were taken in at BioPark in March 2002. The chimps were born at a medical lab during a thunderstorm and upon their arrival at the zoo, they were handraised by staff until they could successfully be integrated into the troop.
Lynn Tupa, zoo manager, said:
“We have been lucky to watch him grow from a youngster to a developing leader and protector of the troop. He was known among staff and guests for his curiosity and mischievous nature.”