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Heart condition claims Wgtn Zoo chimp

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/04/2016

© Facebook/ Wellington Zoo One of Wellington Zoo's 11 chimpanzees, a long-time resident, has been put down after his heart condition made it too tough for him to carry on.

Sam, a 38-year-old male, diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy two years ago, was euthanised recently, the zoo says.

He was being treated for the condition - which reduces the heart's ability to beat and contract - but experts, including cardiologists from Wellington Hospital, advised it was affecting his health and social wellbeing and was not going to get better, says animal care manager Mauritz Basson.

"Animal welfare is our top priority, so the decision to euthanise Sam was made in his best interests."

Chimpanzees can live for up to 50 years in the wild and 60 years in captivity.

Sam was born at the zoo in 1978 and has fathered a number of chimpanzees.

He had a penchant for blankets or sacks.

"Sam was a sun-smart chimpanzee, always first to nab a blanket to cover up from the sun or to wrap up warm on cooler days," said senior keeper Harmony Wallace.

He was "a lover, never a fighter" and never became an alpha male, however his loss would affect the other chimpanzees, which would be monitored by staff, she said.

"One of the young adult chimpanzees, Alexis, has made some recent challenges for the alpha spot, which is currently held by Marty. It could be that Sam's passing could be the next catalyst for change."

Earlier this week the zoo was also forced to put down the country's only resident pelican, Lanky, who also arrived in 1978, because of ill health.

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