Colchester Zoo chimpanzee Tekita has died aged 25 following an illness.
Keepers have bid an emotional farewell to the much-loved animal, who they described as “sensitive and sweet”.
She was born at the zoo in February 1996 to mum Tara, who is still part of the community.
Tekita had been unwell and under veterinary care for the past few weeks, her keepers confirmed.
Despite receiving medication, she was not showing any signs of improvement and underwent a diagnostic health check to try and determine another form of treatment that perhaps would help her.
After exploratory surgery, it became apparent that there would be no further treatment available to help Tekita.
Keepers said the ‘kindest’ decision at that point was to put her to sleep and prevent any further suffering.
A full post mortem to determine the exact cause of death will be completed over the next few days.
Katherine from Colchester Zoo primate team said: “Tekita was sensitive and sweet, trusting of her keepers and enjoyed building relationships with them.
“Tekita was always fiercely protective of her children and an integral part of the heart of the chimpanzee family, her loving, calm and collective nature will be sorely missed by her family and her keepers alike.”
Tekita was mother to both Tumba and Talia, the youngest chimpanzees within the group.