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LA Zoo: Baby chimp's death still unexplained

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It's been two months since a male chimpanzee killed an infant chimp at the Los Angeles Zoo, and officials are still baffled as to what prompted the attack, the Los Angeles City Council was told today.

The three-month-old chimp was killed instantly on June 26 after a male chimpanzee “spontaneously grabbed the infant,” zoo general manager John Lewis told the council.

“We don’t know why the infant was killed by this male,” Lewis said. “He’s been a major part of the troop for years and had not been a problem in this regard.”

In the wild, male chimps will sometimes kill infants to repopulate an area with their own offspring. Infants can also be collateral damage in a fight between two males, according to Lewis. 

It is undecided whether the male chimpanzee will be introduced to a new infant that was born at the zoo two weeks ago.

The June attack took place in front of visitors. Zoo officials are now working on a policy to better address the needs of patrons who witness such an event.

“Because of the type of attack, people were upset" Lewis said. "When they were being forcibly – not physically but assertively – moved by the staff out of the area, they were upset further by that." 

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