Heartbreaking loss for Rockhampton Zoo family

Holly and Gandali.jpg

It is with the deepest sadness that Rockhampton Regional Council today announced that one of the most beloved members of our zoo family, Holly the Chimpanzee, passed away earlier this week.

Holly passed in the early hours of Wednesday morning after becoming suddenly and unexpectedly ill late Tuesday afternoon.

The zoo vet team attended immediately on Tuesday and sought advice in collaboration with chimpanzee specialists at Taronga Zoo and Sydney Zoo to treat the suspected cause.

Zoo staff stayed with her through the night however she passed away yesterday morning.

Parks, Sport and Public Spaces Councillor Cherie Rutherford said Holly’s death has left zoo staff in shock and the staff and troop are grieving their loss.

“This news has devastated our whole zoo family and I know there are so many people in the community who love our chimps who will be heartbroken to hear of Holly’s passing,” Cr Rutherford said.

“It is awful that Gandali will now have to grow up without his mum however the troop have come together around him and are doing an amazing job of caring for him while they deal with their own grief.

“Holly has been at Rockhampton Zoo for almost 11 years and was beloved by so, so many people.

“Just as our community celebrated her becoming a mum in 2020 to Gandali, I am sure many of you will mourn her death now as we all are at Council.

“If there is one thing that I hope will bring a small measure of comfort to people, it is that I can say she wasn’t alone when she passed away.

“Our community has always supported and loved our zoo and it is at times like these that we all feel the loss so I want to thank our community who loved Holly like we did.

“I also want to especially extend my condolences to our zoo staff during this time as I know how much Holly meant to you,” Cr Rutherford said.

Zoo Director and Curator Liz Bellward said Holly’s loss had left the entire zoo heartbroken.

“We all loved Holly. She was part of our family and to see her unexpectedly and suddenly become so ill and pass away has left us just devastated,” Ms Bellward said.

“Our staff stayed with her through the night on shifts to make sure she had the best possible care and I want to thank them and the vet teams for their dedication and professionalism during this sad time.

“At this stage, we have sent samples away to a lab to confirm her exact cause of death. Due to the suddenness of it, we won’t be speculating on what the cause was until we know those results.

“I want to assure the community we did everything we could and she had the best possible care right until the end.

“We will closely be monitoring the troop over the coming days and weeks to see how they handle the loss but they have done a great job in looking after Gandali and their welfare is our top priority,” Ms Bellward said.

Holly was 34 years old and came to Rockhampton Zoo in 2012. She was born at Bullen’s Family Circus in 1988 and was hand reared, which made it hard for her to understand normal chimpanzee behaviour.

She went to Mogo Zoo for a period before coming to Rockhampton where she joined our wonderful troop. It was at Rockhampton she was able learn more chimp behaviour which led to her successfully giving birth to Gandali in 2020. She was a doting mum the entire time.

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