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THIS WEEK: East Africa’s oldest chimp laid to rest

UWEC,Tourism & Conservation fraternity bid farewell to Zakayo

East Africa’s oldest chimp laid to rest

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At 54, East Africa’s oldest known captive chimpanzee was laid to rest on April.28. Zakayo as he was known by fans and conservationists had succumbed to chronic gastroenteritis – inflammation of the stomach lining two days before.

For nearly a decade, Zakayo had remained a household name and most popular inhabitant of the zoo, and the most popular tourist attraction at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) in Entebbe.

According to Lawrence George Opio, a Veterinary Doctor at the center, Zakayo’s respiratory organs started failing and he could no longer take his medicines well. “We started medicating him orally and he took his medication willingly, and we were optimistic until he refused to take his medicine that included a combination of ultra-vitamins, and antibiotics,” he said.

During the funeral, UWEC’s Executive Director David Musinguzi said the remains of the chimp will be preserved so that visitors to the center could get a chance of seeing him. According to UWEC records, on June 10, 1964, Zakayo then aged 1 was rescued in Bundibugyo by an unnamed white man who kept him for thirteen years before being later surrendered to the Zoo in 1976.

Zakayo was the alpha male from 1976 to 2011, when he ceded power to a younger chimpanzee named Matooke who was later toppled by another named Aluma. At the time of his death, Zakayo had two wives – Ruth and Amina and one child Shaka.

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