Little Mama, the oldest living chimpanzee on record, passed away Tuesday at Lion Country Safari surrounded by her family group of eight other chimps, as well as her dedicated care staff.
Over the past few weeks, her health deteriorated, and veterinary staff believe she died of kidney failure. A staff favorite, Little Mama has been at Lion Country Safari since 1967. Prior to coming to safari, it is believed that she was a pet and reportedly performed in the Ice Capades. World-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall first visited Little Mama in 1972 and estimated her age at that time. The lifespan for chimpanzees in the wild is 40 to 50 years, and 50 to 60 years in captivity. Little Mama was in her late 70s.
“She held a special place in the heart of anyone who ever had the privilege to meet her,” said Tina Cloutier Barbour, primate curator at Lion Country Safari. “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.”
Lion Country Safari is the only drive-through safari in South Florida. For more information, call (561) 793-1084 or visit www.lioncountrysafari.com.