Zakayo, Uganda’s known oldest chimpanzee, dies at 54

Zakayo, Uganda’s known oldest chimpanzee, died at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC). The 54 year old chimpanzee lived at Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe for 42 years and was the oldest known captive chimpanzee in the country.

A brief statement from UWEC shows that preliminary findings suggest Zakayo succumbed to chronic gastroenteritis (stomach flu), reads the released statement on Tourism Uganda. Zakayo started feeling unwell about 3 weeks ago and has been on treatment until yesterday.

“Due to his old age, he was highly susceptible to opportunistic infections,” said James Musinguzi the director of UWEC. “Please join us as we celebrate the life of this legendary chimpanzee who once lived as a dominant male and brought up the chimpanzee family at UWEC.”

Zakayo, ‘The joyous chimp’. Courtesy: UWEC

In 1964, Zakayo was found abandoned in Mount Rwenzori jungles in Bundibugyo district and was hand raised by a white man who kept him until he was 14 years before he was surrendered to UWEC on June 19, 1976 because he was becoming aggressive and difficult to manage.

According to Musinguzi, Zakayo nurtured two Alpha male chimpanzees: Matooke who led the group up to 2013, and Aluma who took over in 2013 up to today.

UWEC will hold a vigil for Zakayo today at UWEC beach starting at 6pm followed by his burial on Saturday, 28 April 2018 at 2pm.