Edinburgh Zoo chimpanzee dies in 'vicious fight' as keepers try to intervene

The zoo said chimp group dynamics are "incredibly complex"
-Credit: (Image: Edinburgh Zoo)


A chimpanzee has died at Edinburgh Zoo after a vicious fight broke out in the ape's enclosure.

Rene, a 31-year-old female, was severely injured during the battle while another chimp required surgery. Horrified keepers desperately tried to intervene and stop the altercation and keep the rest of the troop safe but Rene could not be saved and passed away last week.

The other chimp, Qafzeh, was treated by vets and is now being slowly reintroduced to the rest of the group at the zoo. Experts at the zoo said fights are common amongst chimps around breeding time as females come into season and males challenge for dominance in the group.

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In a statement, the zoo said: "We're sad to share the news that Rene, one of our chimpanzees, sadly passed away last week after an altercation within the troop.

"Chimp group dynamics are incredibly complex and Rene, who was 31-years-old, was part of a fight which broke out within the troop. This type of behaviour occurs in the wild, especially around breeding time when females are in season and when males are challenging for dominance of the group."

The zoo added: "Our expert keepers did everything they could to separate the fight and keep the rest of the troop safe, but sadly Rene's injuries were severe.

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"Qafzeh also sustained injuries and after a surgical operation is doing well and is gradually being reintroduced to the group. Rene was a huge personality and will be missed by those who cared for him".

People left their messages of condolence to Rene online and expressed support for the keepers who tried to stop the fight. One said: "My condolences to all who loved and cared for her. Rest in paradise Rene, swing free."

Another wrote: "Heartbreaking. Hope the keepers are all OK too and thank you to them for doing what they could."

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A third added: "Absolutely heartbreaking. Sending love to the keepers who I know will be grieving this loss."

A fourth posted: "Nature at its worst, thoughts are with all the staff who cared for Rene."

Edinburgh Zoo is home to 14 chimps and they are housed in the Budongo Trail enclosure which is 'designed to stimulate the chimps to use and show natural physical, social and mental behaviours that would be observed in the wild'.