Bocco the chimp munched on squash, celery and apples at the 2 p.m. Keeper Talk at Zoo Miami Monday with the rest of his chimpanzee troop and appeared to be “perfect.”
Then at 3:45 p.m. reports from the public came in: There was an unresponsive chimp in his habitat.
Spokesman Ron Magill said staffers soon learned Bocco was dead. The area was then closed off to the public.
“It was terrible to see the other chimps around him prodding him, trying to get him to move,” Magill said, adding that the other chimps were secured in their night enclosure. “They were perplexed.”
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Bocco, who was born March 22, 1990, at the zoo, had shown no signs of illness leading up to his death, Magill said.
“He was the stud of the group,” he said, adding that the four other chimps at the zoo are older and had some health scares. “He was definitely wanting to be the alpha chimp.”
Magill said chimps generally live 50 to 60 years.
“I want to believe it was a catastrophic event and he didn’t feel any pain,” Magill said.
A necropsy will be conducted Tuesday to help staffers understand what happened.
Meanwhile, Magill said Bocco’s troop mates will miss him.
“There is certainly going to be a void,” he said. “Bocco’s death is going to affect the dynamic of the troop.”
Bocco’s death has hit staffers hard.
“This is not just losing part of the inventory,” Magill said. “It’s losing a part of the family.”