The safari park Parco Natura Viva has announced that their resident Judy, who was the oldest chimpanzee in Europe, has passed away causing great sadness not only among staff but also among Judy’s chimpanzee family.
Judy was born in 1972, and died at the age of 49 in the Parco Natura Viva in Bussolengo in the Veneto region in northern Italy last Wednesday (11th of August).
Judy’s genetic line will be carried on by her daughter Valentina and her niece Judith.
The park members described her as a member of the troop that always gave support to other female members and was socially very aware often keeping her distance when dangerous situations arose.
In a moving post, the park shared the story of Judy’s final morning at the park.
They said that Judy woke up and had breakfast before taking a short nap in the shade.
The alpha male member of the troop called ‘Davidino’ came over to Judy and woke her up.
Judy greeted him and they walked a short distance before she led down underneath a tree – this became her final resting place.
The troop soon noticed that something was wrong and park officials noticed several chimpanzees trying to wake Judy up.
The park-keeper said a chimpanzee named Tommy approached Judy and tried to wake her up by hugging her with his arms.
Other chimpanzees quickly intervened thinking that Tommy was trying to attack Judy, but Tommy refused to let go and dragged Judy back into her cage.
The troop then got hold of Judy and dragged her body to the feet of Marco, a member of the parks staff.
Marco attempted to get the troop members to return to their cages but Tommy again refused to leave Judy’s side.
At that moment, Marco realised she was not breathing and called a vet to the scene, who confirmed that Judy was dead.
Caterina Spiezio, head of the research and conservation sector of Parco Natura Viva, noted that Judy’s age had gradually worsened her eyesight. She added: “she had a way of looking at us after recognizing our voices, she would squint a little to get a better view.”
Judy belonged to the Common Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) which feature on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
The species is native to the savannah of tropical Africa where it is biggest threats are habitat loss, poaching, and disease.