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Tammy the chimp, 44, dies at Sedgwick County Zoo

Tammy, a resident of the Sedgwick County Zoo’s chimpanzee exhibit, died Sunday. She was 44.
Tammy, a resident of the Sedgwick County Zoo’s chimpanzee exhibit, died Sunday. She was 44. Courtesy photo

Tammy, a one-armed chimpanzee at the Sedgwick County Zoo, has died.

She was 44, considered elderly for chimpanzees.

“She was one of the keepers’ favorites,” Mark Reed, director of the Sedgwick County Zoo, said Monday. “She was so low key and easy to work with. She got along with everybody.”

The chimpanzee died Sunday after living more than a year with a diagnosis of “heart disease – one of the leading causes of death among all great apes,” Reed said.

Her right arm was amputated in March 2015 after several attempts to repair an injury to her elbow.

She was the greatest patient. She didn’t try to rip things off, undo stitches or any of those things. She even let us sign her cast after the surgery.

Mark Reed, director of Sedgwick County Zoo

“She was the greatest patient,” Reed said. “She didn’t try to rip things off, undo stitches or any of those things. She even let us sign her cast after the surgery.”

Tammy arrived at the Sedgwick County Zoo in the spring of 1999. At that time, she was a spry 27-year-old from Salt Lake City.

She was one of three chimps who escaped from their cage in the Salt Lake City zoo. She was sent to Wichita after the incident and was gradually introduced to other chimps at the zoo.

Last year, Tammy’s health began to fail.

“Sadly over the past couple of days she started showing signs that her health was failing and was being monitored by veterinary staff,” the zoo’s Facebook post on Monday said.

The zoo now has seven chimpanzees.

A necropsy – common in all the zoo’s deaths – will determine what Tammy died from, Reed said. Some of her body may be preserved for research in helping learn more about chimpanzees.

“She was known as the ‘sweetest’ and least assertive chimp in the troop,” the zoo’s Facebook post said. “Those of us that were lucky enough to know and work with her were honored to have had the privilege, she will be missed.”

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner

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