Animal News

31-year-old chimp Kirk dies at Dallas Zoo due to surprise heart disease

31-year-old chimp Kirk dies at Dallas Zoo from surprise heart disease

Kirk chimpanzee
RIP Kirk. Dallas Zoo

Another animal has died at The Dallas Zoo, this time a 31-year-old chimpanzee named Kirk, who'd only been at the zoo for three years.

According to a post by the zoo, Kirk died on August 25, when he "suddenly stopped breathing" just before staffers passed by at the end of the day. They tried to revive him but it was too late.

Like most of the animal deaths at the Dallas Zoo, this one took the hapless staff completely by surprise.

"Kirk didn't show any sign of heart-related illness or distress in the days or weeks leading up to his sudden passing, but a necropsy revealed heart disease as his cause of death," said the statement from the zoo.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death of chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas living in captivity.

The average life expectancy for a male chimpanzee in captivity is 32-and-a-half years old; it's 40 years for females.

Kirk was transferred to the Dallas Zoo in 2018 when he was 27, to expand their "troop" to nine members, along with his mother Margaret, who was 43. At the time, the zoo described him as "initially a little timid of his big new habitat."

On his passing, they said he "was known as a sweet chimp who loved to eat carrots and energetically gallop around the habitat."

What they did not say is that Kirk was born October 30, 1989 at the Fort Worth Zoo, to Margaret and Goliath — who was subsequently relocated to Chattanooga, then to the Potawatomi Zoo in Indiana, where he seems to have fallen out of sight.

Zoos talk a lot about "families," but appear to have no problem splitting them up or shuffling them around when it suits them.

Kirk represents the second animal death for the Dallas Zoo in 2021, joining a lengthy series of animal deaths that have occurred there:

  • Keeya, a 6-year-old Hartmann's mountain zebra, died in March 2021 due to a mysterious unexplained head injury.
  • Subira, a 24-year-old silverback gorilla, died suddenly in March 2020, due to a cough, or maybe cardiovascular disease.
  • Hope, a 23-year-old Western lowland gorilla, died suddenly in November 2019 after being at the zoo for only two years.
  • Ola, an 8-year-old female African painted dog, was killed in July 2019 by two other painted dogs, less than a month after she was transferred to the zoo.
  • Witten, a 1-year-old giraffe, died in June 2019 during a physical exam under anesthesia when he suddenly stopped breathing.
  • Adhama, a baby hippopotamus, mysteriously died in 2018.
  • Kipenzi, a baby giraffe, died in 2015 after running in her enclosure.
  • Kamau, a young cheetah, died of pneumonia in 2014.
  • Johari, a female lion, was killed in front of zoo spectators in 2013 by male lions with whom she shared an enclosure.

And in February, they lost a crow called Onyx who was part of their "animal ambassador team," "participating in a training session" for a bird show. He was never found. Maybe don't use animals as ambassadors or make them participate in shows? Seems like an obvious thing you wouldn't need to tell an organization that cares for animals.

In prototypical form, the Dallas Zoo made Kirk's death all about them, and not about the animal, stating, "Please keep our Zoo family in your thoughts, especially the primate team, as we mourn this sudden loss."