Alpha female Maggie often helped other chimpanzees raise their children

By Kelli Bender
April 16, 2019 04:41 PM
North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo is mourning the loss of their chimpanzee matriarch, 46-year-old Maggie.

According to a release from the zoo, Maggie, who was seen as the female leader of the zoo’s chimp troop, was “humanely euthanized on Friday, April 12, after a period of declining health. She lived a full life for her species — female chimpanzees typically live for approximately 40 years.”

“In chimp society, alpha females are a stabilizing presence and achieve their high rank through their personalities and the relationships they build within the troop,” the statement from the zoo continues.

Maggie was one of these personalities. The zoo says that the alpha female often helped mothers in her troop raise their children and was a close friend to many of the chimps in her troop, both current and past. One of Maggie’s most famous companions is Ham, the first hominid to go into space, who retired to the North Carolina Zoo after his trip to the stars. Ham died in 1983.

North Carolina Zoo

The zoo made the choice to euthanize Maggie after her health started to noticeably decline.

“During a closer examination it was determined she had developed signs of sepsis and severe peritonitis (an infection of the lining of the abdominal wall) from a perforation in her large intestines. Due to her advanced age, the severity of the disease and complications associated with the post-surgical care of this condition, the animal care and veterinary teams made the difficult decision to euthanize Maggie,” the zoo’s Director of Animal Health, Dr. Jb Minter, explained in the zoo’s statement.

Both humans and apes are mourning the loss of Maggie. Shortly after Maggie’s death, her body was presented to her troop so the chimpanzees had an opportunity to mourn the loss of their matriarch, who led the troop for 35 years.

North Carolina Zoo’s chimpanzee troop now consists of 15 chimps, among these apes is a newborn. Chimpanzee mom Gerre welcomed healthy a baby boy on March 18.