5-week-old chimp died from head trauma, Kansas zoo says

Kucheza, the chimpanzee, was born via c-section on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, at the Sedgwick...
Kucheza, the chimpanzee, was born via c-section on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, at the Sedgwick County Zoo.(Sedgwick County Zoo)
Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 1:54 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH/Gray News) – Officials at a Kansas zoo said a 5-week-old chimpanzee named Kucheza died from head trauma last week.

The Sedgwick County Zoo said the baby chimp died on Thursday, Dec. 22.

According to KWCH, zookeepers arrived Thursday morning to find Kucheza dead and cradled in his mother’s arms. The zoo said the death was sudden and left everyone heartbroken.

“In his few short weeks of life, Kucheza brought joy and light to so many, and sparked an opportunity to educate the world about chimpanzees, the dangers they face in the wild, and most importantly - why we should care,” the zoo said in a statement.

The mother, Mahale, wasn’t ready to part from the baby at the time, but zookeepers were eventually able to conduct an autopsy on the baby chimp, where they determined he had died from head trauma.

Despite the suddenness of his death, the zoo said Wednesday that it did not believe Kucheza died from an intentional attack by a family member and that his death was purely accidental based on “the family social dynamics and what we know of each individual chimp.”

The zoo said Kucheza was born via C-section in November after Mahale fell into distress.

The zoo said its last successful birth of a chimpanzee was in 2010 when mother Audra gave birth to baby Mabusu. Audra died last year at the age of 51, and Mabusu is 12 years old and doing well, the zoo said.