A “significant” and “influential” great-grandmother who started out performing in a US roadside circus has been farewelled in Sydney.
Lulu the chimpanzee, believed to be 62, was put down at Taronga Zoo on Friday.
“In March this year she sustained an injury (and) this injury severely restricted her mobility,” senior primate keeper Allan Schmidt wrote on the zoo’s blog.
“Unfortunately over the subsequent months her physical limitations did not improve under treatment, and she’s actually deteriorated very significantly over the last few weeks. It was time to say goodbye.”
Lulu arrived at Taronga in 1965, coming from a zoo in the US after a stint at a Florida circus where she rode a bike while wearing a tutu.
She had eight children while at the zoo and has become grandmother to six chimps and great grandmother to another seven.
“Older generation keepers speak of Lulu’s extraordinary intelligence, and there are a multitude of stories spoken of her,” Mr Schmidt said.
“Whether these are true or not, we would like to believe they are.”
She apparently used a scrubbing brush found in her exhibit to clean walls and was seen raking grass with a rake.
But it wasn’t just house work she tried her hand at.
“When the chimp group was being moved from the old enclosure to the new exhibit in 1981, Lulu apparently upon being darted for transport, disassembled the dart and then reassembled it before succumbing to the drug,” Mr Schmidt said.
Mr Schmidt said Lulu had a big impact at the zoo and she would “never be forgotten”.
“No day was ever better than one with an enthusiastic greeting from Lulu,” he said.