(WDEF) It is with great sadness that the Chattanooga Zoo announces the loss of Annie the Chimpanzee. Recently, the Chattanooga Zoo Veterinary staff made the difficult decision to humanly euthanize Annie in order to prevent suffering.
The Chattanooga Zoo’s animal care staff first noticed Annie’s severe weight loss two weeks prior. After days of continued rapid weight loss and health deterioration, she was transported to the University of Tennessee’s School of Veterinary Medicine for examinations. There she underwent many tests, a CT scan, and an echocardiogram. According to the UT School of Veterinary Medicine, all tests came back satisfactory giving no indication of an underlying issue.
The Chattanooga Zoo is a longtime partner with the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a population management and conservation plan for multiple endangered species, including the chimpanzee. After receiving Annie’s medical results from the UT School of Veterinary Medicine, the Chattanooga Zoo consulted with Dr. Kathryn Gamble, the SSP Veterinary advisor for her recommendations. Gamble’s recommendations were applied, but Annie did not respond to the resuscitation efforts and it became evident that her condition was not getting better, but heading for the worse.
Days before her death, Annie’s animal care staff entered the den with her to insert a feeding tube in hopes of her body receiving needed nutrition and calories. After her body refused the nutrition, the decision was made to euthanize Annie and she died peacefully with her animal care staff holding her hand.
“Our animal care staff does a fabulous job of implementing animal drills and always staying prepared for any situation, but you can never fully prepare for such a loss,” says Zoo CEO/President, Darde Long. “This loss has been very tough for all of us at the Zoo. Annie was so intelligent and always found ways to outsmart us all. We will all miss her witty behavior and tactics.”
Annie was born on July 30, 1986 and came to live at the Chattanooga Zoo in May 2001 from the Fort Worth Zoo as part of the Zoo’s involvement with the SSP. She is survived by one male and one female in her troop who also came to Chattanooga from Fort Worth. Annie’s chimpanzee friends were given a chance to say goodbye and cope with her death appropriately.
“Annie was a very smart chimp,” says Stacy Laberdee, Curator of Mammals and Birds. “She was always the first to figure out training behaviors and manipulate enrichment items. Annie and her keeper, Tawnya, bonded very well and Tawnya was able to train her to sit on a scale, station and present different body parts, and was in the process of teaching her to paint.”
Preliminary necropsy results showed non-compaction cardiomyopathy. To our knowledge, this condition has not been documented in chimpanzees. Full necropsy results will not be available for 4 to 6 weeks.
Annie the chimpanzee will be missed by all.