FOND FAREWELL: Ockie the chimpanzee, pictured here with zookeeper Yvette Fenning, will be remembered as a wonderful character who was loved by Rockhampton Zoo staff and visitors.
FOND FAREWELL: Ockie the chimpanzee, pictured here with zookeeper Yvette Fenning, will be remembered as a wonderful character who was loved by Rockhampton Zoo staff and visitors. Contributed

Ockie from Rocky will be sadly missed

OCKIE the chimpanzee, one of Rockhampton Zoo's most lovable characters, has died.

The popular primate, who was 38, was farewelled at a memorial at the zoo this morning.

He is mourned by zoo staff and visitors, as well as his close companion Cassie and new chimps, Holly and Samantha.

Rockhampton Zoo co-ordinator Graeme Strachan said it was a "time of great sadness" for all at the zoo.

"Ockie was friendly and feisty, protective and loving, but most of all he was a wonderful character who entertained our zoo visitors every day," Mr Strachan said.

"His intelligence and vibrant personality resonated with his best mate Cassie and with his keepers.

"Ockie will be missed terribly by all who worked side by side with him and those who were fortunate enough to see his playful antics."

Ockie's death on Sunday prompted an emotional response from the other chimps.

Some zoo visitors were concerned that the other chimps were hurting Ockie but it was part of the animals' natural behaviour to pat and prod at a sick animal.

Chief executive Evan Pardon said it was "necessary and natural" for the chimps to follow their instincts and grieve for Ockie. "The chimpanzees were closely observed by zoo keepers at this time and these staff remained at the enclosure to explain to the public what was occurring and why."

Mr Pardon said that when the chimps had finished the grieving process, keepers entered the enclosure and removed Ockie.

A post mortem, done under the auspices of a local veterinarian, had identified heart issues as the probable cause of death. A final determination was subject to the results of pathology tests.

SAY GOODBYE

WHAT: Memorial for Ockie

WHEN: Today at 9am

WHERE: Rockhampton Zoo chimp enclosure

DONATIONS: The Jane Goodall Institute at www.janegoodall.org.au



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