Little Mama, the oldest chimpanzee on record dies at Lion Country Safari

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Lion Country Safari announced Tuesday that the oldest living chimpanzee on record has died.

Little Mama was on her late 70's and passed away at Lion Country Safari, surrounded by her family group of 8 other chimps as well as her staff, according to a news release.

Little Mama was born in Africa around 1938, and she came to Loxahatchee in 1967.

The report says that prior to going to Lion Country Safari, it is believed Little Mama was a pet and reportedly performed in the Ice Capades.

According to Dr. Jane Goodall, a world-renowned primatologist, the lifespan for chimpanzees in the wild is 40 to 50 years and in captivity is 50 to 60 years. 

Dr. Goodall first visited Little Mama in 1972 and estimated her age at the time.

“She held a special place in the heart of anyone who ever had the privilege to meet her.  In all ways, Mama was special. It soothes me to think that she will be with us forever, in our hearts and memories. I’ll never forget the way she looked at her caretakers: with such joy and trust—and demand, if you had a particular treat that she wanted. There was nowhere else on this earth that she could have possibly been more loved or cared for than here at Lion Country Safari,” said Tina Cloutier Barbour, Primate Curator at Lion Country Safari.

Even though Little Mama might have been the oldest living chimpanzee in captivity, she didn't look her age. She was petite in stature, always carried around a stuffed animal and was an amazing ambassador for her species, said the release.

The staff at Lion Country Safari celebrated Little Mama's birthday each February 14, which they say it was the biggest celebration out of any of the park's 1,098 animals. 

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