Saying Farewell

Caring for animals is the most rewarding job in the world. I am humbled every day working with some of the most amazing, smart and complex animals. Our animal care family develops an incredible emotional bond with the individuals in our care. For 46 years our team here has cared for one incredible individual—June the chimpanzee—and today we sadly had to say goodbye.

At 46 years old, June had reached a very advanced age: the median life expectancy for female chimpanzees is 39 years. She had a chronic cardiopulmonary condition that recently progressed beyond control of her medications. She reached a stage where her quality of life was compromised, and our staff had to make the difficult but appropriate decision to euthanize her.

Some members of the public may not know June. But we all knew her well, and needless to say, it has been a very hard day for our zoo family. June lived in an auxiliary area of Regenstein Center for African Apes that is not open to the general public. This private area provided a more peaceful setting for June, and it’s where her geriatric troopmates (Keo, Kibali and Vicky) will continue to reside.

June was born here at Lincoln Park Zoo. She is the daughter of 54-year-old Keo (who is still with us, and also happens to be the oldest male chimpanzee alive in any accredited North American zoo). It is very likely June and Keo have had the longest lasting father-daughter bond of any chimpanzees in the world—ever—in zoos or in the wild.

June was a very inquisitive and demonstrative chimpanzee. She was captivated by novel objects inside or outside her habitat. At the end of the day she could be seen spending time meticulously creating the “perfect” nest for the night.

June developed a close relationship with our animal care staff in the last several years of her life as a result of her heart condition, which required multiple daily mediations. She was one of many geriatric animals in our care here at the zoo, and we are deeply saddened by her loss.

Working with living creatures every day brings with it an incredible amount of emotions. There’s joy at births, milestones and seeing zoo residents happy and healthy. And some days bring the sadness of loss. Today is one of those days… we lost a beloved member of our family. June was an absolute treasure and we will remember her always.

Maureen Leahy

Maureen Leahy is Lincoln Park Zoo's curator of primates.

Comments

This was a sad but lovely post. Thank you for taking such good care of June, her family and friends. I hope the other chimpanzees are not too sad.

It is my great honor to be a part of the enrichment group that has been involved in June's enrichment over the past few years. She was a wonderful and special chimpanzee. I will never forget June. I feel so extremely sorry for the staff at RCAA. This has been a very sad year. My thoughts are with them at this time.

What a difficult year for LPZ and especially for RCAA. I too am a VEG and consider myself to have been very honored by the enrichment I helped provide for June, who was sweet and intelligent.

I am a chimp observer at Lion Country in Fl. These chimps amaze me every day at their intelligence and compassion for each other. GOD SPEED JUNE. Please tell my niece, Leah, I said hello... And I send my deepest co dole cues to all of the keepers.
Kim

It was an honor to get to care for her. She will be missed.

As a zoo volunteer I know how dedicated all the staff are to the well being of their "charges". My thoughts are with all the folks at RCAA.

I am so glad Rick spent as many years with June and he shared this dear soul with his family. To watch her watch you, incredible. She touched my heart, which is very heavy tonight. Humbling to know them, yes, Keo, my friend, hang in there buddy. Maybe Uncle Rick will bring down to see you and the "gang", if I am lucky. So long for while, you were loved.

My heart and thoughts are with all of RCAA, staff and Keo's group. I'm so sorry for your loss. When it rains it pours and I hope the coming months will be at least a little brighter.

My heart grieves for all of June's caregivers. Thank you for your dedication to June, Keo, and all of the chimpanzees at Lincoln Park Zoo. You make such a difference in their lives, and I know that June was a happier chimp because of you.

I had the honor to work with June and her troop for many years. She was a great animal with a strong personality. The Keeper and Vet staff did a great job of caring for her and dealing with her health issues the last few years. She lived a great and long life, and will be missed by her troop mates and care givers.

Lincoln Park Zoo staff - so sorry for the loss of your friend. Maureen, this is a beautiful tribute to your friend.
Vanessa
Happy Hollow Zoo

My heart goes out to all the staff and to Keo, Vicky, and Kibali. June had such a great, strong personality. Demonstrative is certainly the word. Thanks to all the keepers and staff who cared so much for her with such dedication.

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