The Lincoln Park Zoo family is saddened to announce the passing of a longtime, much-loved resident. Vicky, a geriatric chimpanzee who lived in the behind-the-scenes group at Regenstein Center for African Apes, was humanely euthanized yesterday.
The difficult decision was made following complications which arose due to her advanced age and long-term heart condition.
The median life expectancy for female chimpanzees is 38.7 years. Vicky, who celebrated her 50th birthday last summer, spent most of her life at Lincoln Park Zoo. She arrived in 1971 and briefly left only for the two years it took to build the zoo’s state-of-the-art Regenstein Center for African Apes. She lived for many years with iconic chimpanzee Keo, and after his death last year she shared the building’s lively off-exhibit space with her daughters, Magadi and Kibali, and fellow female Cookie.
Beyond impacting countless visitors, caregivers and friends of the zoo, Vicky’s passing highlights how much zoos have changed since her arrival. She was the last wild-born ape at Lincoln Park Zoo, offering a link to a practice that no longer takes place.
Ultimately, the arc of Vicky’s life reminds us of how far zoos have come in planning populations—and offering care. Veterinary advancements have geriatric animals living longer, healthier lives than ever before. That doesn’t make it easier to say goodbye to Vicky, but it does offer comfort to all those who will miss her.