TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Lowry Park Zoo staff is mourning the death of Keeva, the chimpanzee who died Wednesday morning from what appeared to be an attack from another chimp.
Keeva came to the zoo as an orphan in 2015. Her mother had rejected her at birth, but workers at the zoo were thrilled to take her in.
“She was a sweet little chimp,” said Ray Ball, senior veterinarian at Lowry Park Zoo.
Keeva was briefly raised by humans, but zookeepers wanted to give her a normal life.
“Chimps are very social animals. So to put them together into these groups and to make the groups different in dynamic, it actually stimulates them and they build bonds and these bonds are maintained by these animals for a lifetime,” said Ball.
She transitioned into a chimp habitat and was living with an adult female and male chimpanzees before she died.
“We hadn’t had any significant issues in the group. Things were moving along fairly well,” said Ball.
For months, their interaction was just fine, until Wednesday when either Twiggy or Nick attacked little Keeva.
“Everyone at the zoo is heartbroken. This is a devastating event for us, myself included,” said Ball.
Though devastating, animal caretakers aren’t surprised this happened.
“They are actually very strong, they’re very physical. They use this physicality every day. This is how they establish their social order and this is how they maintain it,” said Ball.
Zoo employees will review their practices and determine if there was something they could have done differently.
“I think honestly it is one of those cases where the best intentions and best plans resulted in a poor outcome,” said Ball.