Rockhampton Zoo is mourning the death of Holly the chimpanzee.
The Rockhampton Council made the announcement yesterday, saying the 34-year-old primate passed in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after becoming unexpectedly ill late Tuesday afternoon.
The zoo vet team attended immediately on Tuesday and sought advice in collaboration with chimpanzee specialists at Taronga Zoo and Sydney Zoo.
Councillor Cherie Rutherford says Holly’s death has left zoo staff in shock and they are all grieving the loss.
“This news has devastated our whole zoo family and I know there are so many people in the community who love our chimps who will be heartbroken to hear of Holly’s passing,” she says.
“It is awful that Gandali will now have to grow up without his mum however the troop have come together around him and are doing an amazing job of caring for him while they deal with their own grief.
“Holly has been at Rockhampton Zoo for almost 11 years and was beloved by so, so many people.
“Just as our community celebrated her becoming a mum in 2020 to Gandali, I am sure many of you will mourn her death now as we all are at Council.
“If there is one thing that I hope will bring a small measure of comfort to people, it is that I can say she wasn’t alone when she passed away.
“Our community has always supported and loved our zoo and it is at times like these that we all feel the loss so I want to thank our community who loved Holly like we did.
“I also want to especially extend my condolences to our zoo staff during this time as I know how much Holly meant to you.”
Holly was 34 years old and came to Rockhampton Zoo in 2012.
She was born at Bullen’s Family Circus in 1988 where she was hand reared, which made it hard for her to understand normal chimpanzee behaviour.
It was at Rockhampton Zoo she was able learn more chimp behaviour which led to her successfully giving birth to Gandali in 2020.
Zoo Director and Curator Liz Bellward says Holly’s loss has left the entire zoo heartbroken.
“We all loved Holly, she was part of our family and to see her unexpectedly and suddenly become so ill and pass away has left us just devastated,” she says.
“Our staff stayed with her through the night on shifts to make sure she had the best possible care and I want to thank them and the vet teams for their dedication and professionalism during this sad time.
“At this stage, we have sent samples away to a lab to confirm her exact cause of death.
“Due to the suddenness of it, we won’t be speculating on what the cause was until we know those results.
“I want to assure the community we did everything we could and she had the best possible care right until the end.
“We will closely be monitoring the troop over the coming days and weeks to see how they handle the loss but they have done a great job in looking after Gandali and their welfare is our top priority.”