Zoo Mourning Loss of Chimp

Rolling Hills Zoo is mourning the passing of one of its original animal family,

According to the zoo, Auli, a member of the Zoo’s original chimpanzee troop, has passed away at the age of 41. The average life expectancy for male chimpanzees in captivity is 30 years.

The zoo’s animal care staff and veterinarian had been monitoring Auli’s health as he began developing age related issues. He was not responding to treatment and his quality of life was rapidly declining. It was decided that humanely euthanizing him was the kindest option available.

Born on August 25, 1981, Auli was captive born at the Primate Foundation of Arizona. Along with Shudak, Tohlo and Cocoa, Auli arrive at Rolling Hills Zoo (RHZ) on August 28, 1997.

When Auli was young, and prior to coming to RHZ, he suffered a bite wound by another chimpanzee. This injury caused Auli to have numerous issues as he matured and resulted in many extensive surgeries and procedures through the years. Thanks to Dr. Mauch and a local team of MD specialists, RHZ staff veterinarians, Kansas State University Veterinary College and the exemplary care he received from his keepers through the years, Auli was able to live a long life despite his early challenges.

“I had the pleasure of caring for Auli for 25 years,” shared Brenda Gunder, RHZ Curator. “I met ‘Auli- baba-doodle-boy’ when he arrived just after his sweet 16th birthday in 1997. He was the youngest of the four male chimpanzees. To say that he taught me a lot about caring for the individual is an understatement. I will forever remember his ability to make brush-like tools by chewing the end of a stick to extract the last drops from any enrichment tube. Auli was a great supporter of his male troop members, even after the arrival of the females, and all the girls preferred the company of his calm sensitive nature. The bond with his “brothers from other mothers” stayed forever strong. He would support them, whenever needed, backing off the females when tensions flared. While words cannot describe how this loss will affect those who knew him, it gives me great comfort to know that we were able to give him a long, caring, and dynamic home for more than half his life.”

“Auli was the best nest builder and I would always watch him for the last 15 minutes of the day while he collected his handfuls of hay, sometimes even leg-fuls, and then would climb up to his nest location for the night,” shared Brenna Fuller, RHZ Keeper. “He was the most gentle chimp, always being very slow and careful when taking something from his keepers.”

“My fondest memories of Auli were when Millie, a female chimpanzee, would wrap a scarf around his neck and pull him around the yard. He would just go along with it with no complaints,” said Kira Kaempfe. “Whenever Auli wouldn’t shift inside for the night I would tell Millie to get Auli and she would go outside and wrap her arm around his shoulders and bring him in. Auli’s favorite enrichment was tooling, he loved a challenge and he always worked harder than anyone else. He will forever have a special place in my heart, and I’ll never forget his heart shaped behind.”