Maggie, the dominant female chimp at the North Carolina Zoo for almost four decades, has died, according to an announcement Monday.
“Her commanding presence will be sorely missed by our staff and guests,” said Pat Simmons, zoo director, in a news release.
The 46-year-old animal was euthanized Friday “after a period of declining health,” the release said. She was the last of the original chimps to leave the zoo, according to the facility.
Maggie was the alpha female and became “auntie” to younger chips, the zoo says. She came from a Virginia facility when the North Carolina Zoo started its habitat in 1980, according to the news release.
“I always admired her bossiness and her unwillingness to take any nonsense from anybody,” said Jennifer Campbell, the chimp’s longtime keeper, in the news release. “She was one of a kind.”
Cambpell said being able to tickle Maggie was “one of the highlights” of her career at the zoo, according to the news release.
“She acted like she was too tough to care about the humans who cared for her, but one time she let her guard down and let me play with her toes,” Campbell said, per the release.
Maggie was companion to Ham, a chimp who went into space in 1961, according to the zoo.
The zoo says Ruby, a 22-year-old chimp, will likely take Maggie’s place as the dominant female.
The matriarch’s death comes after the zoo euthanized 47-year-old Ruthie the chimp in December, The Charlotte Observer previously reported. Ruthie had heart disease that progressed as she got older, the zoo said.
Female chimps usually live to be 40 years old, according to the zoo.
In Maggie’s case, the zoo says she had signs of infection. Caregivers euthanized Maggie due to her age, condition and complications that could come after surgery, the zoo said.
Maggie was shown to other chimps so they could “observe the death and mourn the loss,” according to the news release.
African chimps are endangered in the wild, the zoo says.