A CHIMP hailed as Edinburgh Zoo’s oldest resident has died.
Ricky, who was thought to be around 50, died in his sleep following a vet check-up.
Staff have been left devastated by the death of the animal, which first arrived at the zoo in February 1963.
While the zoo does not know exactly when the former ship’s mascot was born, experts estimated that he turned 50 in September, making him the oldest animal in the zoo.
To celebrate the half-century milestone, Ricky was given a number of birthday treats, including a massive peanut butter flavoured banana.
A spokesman for the zoo said: “Staff at the zoo will be devastated, they had an incredible bond with him, but 50 years old is a great age for a chimp.
“Ricky had been with the zoo since around the age of four and was an integral member of the troop.
“He was particularly good with the younger chimps.”
Keepers initially grew concerned when they noticed Ricky was losing weight and was being bullied by other chimps.
An examination by zoo vet Romain Pizzi found that the primate was suffering from advanced heart disease.
She said: “It was a bit of a shock when we found out because chimps are very good at hiding these things. We were all saddened by it.”
Ricky was born in the wild but is thought to have been orphaned after his parents were killed by hunters. The infant Ricky was then captured and sold into the pet trade.
He served as a mascot on a merchant naval ship during his early years, being raised by humans.
As he grew older he became too strong to handle and was given a new home at Edinburgh Zoo.
However his early contact with humans made it difficult for him to integrate with the rest of the chimps due to his human-like traits.
Instead of taking part in normal chimp life, Ricky preferred to play with the babies in the group.
His Zoo profile reads: “He is a gentle, kindly chimp who can be easily upset, but the group is immensely fond of him, and look out for him.”
When the chimps moved to their new home, the Budongo Trail in 2008, Ricky took to climbing to the highest point to take in panoramic views of the city.
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