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Cobby, oldest male chimp in a U.S. zoo, dies at 63

An official described him as the “charismatic and compassionate leader” of the San Francisco Zoo’s chimpanzee troop.
Cobby, shown in 2009, was the oldest male chimpanzee living in an accredited North American zoo. He died Saturday at age 63.Russel A. Daniels / AP

Cobby, the oldest male chimpanzee in an accredited U.S. zoo, died Saturday in California, the San Francisco Zoo said. He was 63.

His cause of death had not been determined, but he had recently been ill and old age was likely a contributing factor, the zoo said in a news release.

Tanya M. Peterson, CEO and executive director of the San Francisco Zoological Society, described him as the “charismatic and compassionate leader” of the zoo’s chimpanzee troop and said his death was a “devastating loss.”

“Cobby enjoyed resting on the various platforms, snacking on his favorite foods, and even as a senior, climbing up high to hang out with his favorite girl Minnie,” the zoo said.

Once a performing animal, Cobby was raised by people and brought to the zoo in the mid-1960s.

The average life expectancy for wild chimpanzees is 33 and 50 to 60 under human care, the zoo said, adding that hunting, habitat loss and disease have made the apes among the endangered primates in Africa.