Baby chimpanzee killed at Los Angeles Zoo kept with mom overnight


Zoo officials did not specify exactly when the infant would be removed. The unnamed baby was killed just before 4 p.m. Tuesday. The chimps were sitting around grooming each other when the baby's uncle grabbed her from the mother, Gracie, and started attacking her in front of about 60 zoo visitors.

Workers couldn't stop the attack because the facility's safety policy prevents staff members to enter the same space as the animals because of their strength.

"I'm kind of shocked, and I'm very sad. My heart really goes out to our staff. It's been a very sad day," said Jennie Becker, the curator of mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Because chimpanzees can be aggressive toward other chimps, especially newcomers, zoo workers were trying to gradually introduce the baby to the rest of the group. They said the attack was shocking because it appeared the older animals were welcoming her and there were no signs of violence.

"All the interactions with the baby were positive - a lot of interest, a lot of wanting to touch. The mother would either allow another chimp to hold it, or she wouldn't. She would protect it and turn her body away if she didn't want another chimp to hold it," said Becker.

The chimpanzee exhibit was open to the public on Wednesday, but the mother was not being kept there. Becker said chimps are aware when a family member has died.

"They all react very differently just like people will react very differently. Some of them are very vocal. Some of them get very quiet and standoffish," Becker said.

The baby was the first chimp born at the zoo in 13 years. In 1999, a 4-month-old chimp named Toshi was attacked and killed by two adult male chimps. The attack also happened in front of a horrified crowd.

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