47-year-old Oregon Zoo chimpanzee passes away

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Leah, one of the Oregon Zoo’s oldest residents, passed away in her sleep on Monday. 

“This is a tough loss for the entire zoo, but especially for her care staff,” said Dr. Carlos Sanchez, the zoo’s lead veterinarian.

“I hope knowing that we did everything we could for Leah, and that she passed away peacefully in her sleep, is a comfort.”

Leah is survived by her big sister Delilah, who turns 49 next month; male chimp Jackson, 50; and the troop leader Chloe, 53.

Around 1974, when Leah was born, the Oregon Zoo’s work with chimpanzees drew the attention of primatologist Jane Goodall.

Leah and the other chimpanzees at the zoo helped foster a decades-long “friendship” between Goodall and the Oregon Zoo.

Goodall visited Leah and the others regularly. 

Wild chimpanzees usually live around 33 years, and the life expectancy in zoos for female chimpanzees is 41.7 years, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Dr. Sanchez added, “Her remarkable age says a lot about the great care she’s received over the years.”

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