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Contact(s):Susan Altrui

Friday, September 19, 2008

Zoo's Oldest Chimpanzee, Jodie, Dies Tuesday Afternoon

LITTLE ROCK (September 18, 2008) The Little Rock Zoo is sad to announce the death of Jodie, the Zoos oldest chimpanzee.

Jodie died Tuesday after a medical examination performed by Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Marilynn Baeyens. Jodie, whose age is estimated to be at least 50-years-old, had been showing signs of advanced age for awhile. The medical examination performed by Baeyens showed the chimp was experiencing impaired renal function. Baeyens anesthetized Jodie for the medical examination and she failed to recover from the anesthesia.

Jodie came to the Little Rock Zoo in 1970 from Vanderbilt University. Jodies actual birth date is not known and is only an estimate because she was wild-caught. Records show Jodie is at least 50 but could potentially be older.

When Jodie arrived at the Little Rock Zoo she was a resident of Chimp Island which now serves as the Zoos lemur exhibit. She was one of the first residents of the new chimpanzee exhibit built in 1988. Jodie is one of the last generations of wild-caught apes. It is now illegal to import apes from the wild, and has been for many years.

She was an important member of her chimpanzee family and was known by keepers for her calm and consistent personality which often served as a stabilizing influence on the group.

Jodies longtime companion, Kim, passed away in 2007, and Jodie was often seen assisting the frail and forgetful chimp. In contrast to her warm and supportive relationship with the members of the chimp group, her relationship with people was aloof and distant. Her keepers had great respect for her uncompromising independence and often felt as though Jodie regarded them as inferior apes.

The Little Rock Zoo has long been one of Arkansas' great treasures. It all began modestly in 1926, with just two animals an abandoned timber wolf and a circus-trained brown bear. Today, the Zoo has grown to include more than 725 animals representing 200+ species, many on the endangered list. The Zoo itself has become one of the state's greatest educational and conservation resources.

The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, visit

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