A baby chimpanzee was killed earlier this week by an adult male at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs said that the attack on the 3-month old infant was witnessed by several people. The Associated Press reports that zoo officials were not able to step in to save the baby chimpanzee since it is not safe for them to enter the chimp exhibit when the chimpanzees are present.
Jacobs said that Gracie, the baby’s mother, was allowed to keep “the infant overnight to allow her the opportunity to grieve.”
“Chimpanzee behavior can sometimes be aggressive and violent, and the zoo is sorry that visitors had to be exposed to this… This is a heartbreaking and tragic loss for the zoo and especially for the Great Ape Team who have worked diligently to care for the infant and its mother since its birth.”
Jennie Becker, the zoo’s curator of mammals, said that the attack was a surprise to zoo workers. Becker said that the baby chimpanzee had been slowly introduced to the troop and that there had been no signs of aggressive behavior. Becker said:
“Everything that we saw has been positive, all the chimps have been very interested, wanting to either be close to, or touch the baby.”
According to the Huffington Post, male chimpanzees, both in the wild and in captivity, may attack the small children of rivals if a desired female is the baby’s mother.
Zoo officials are currently investigating the attack. Becker said that due to the attack the zoo may have to change the way it introduces babies to the troop.