Zoo mourns death of oldest male bonobo, Akili

Great Ape was under anesthesia, went into cardiac arrest

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens' oldest male bonobo died on March 23 from cardiac arrest, the zoo announced Tuesday.

Akili was being treated for heart disease, which zoo officials said is a common affliction in Great Apes. Akili was anesthetized for an exam to assess his condition, when he went into cardiac arrest and could not be revived.

The bonobo was born at Yerkes National Primate Research Center in 1980. He would have turned 36-years-old in July.

After living at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Akili was adopted by the Jacksonville Zoo in 2008 to become the primary breeding male of the zoo's bonobo group.

Akili is survived by his five offspring and six grand-offspring, including Lukuru, who is the youngest bonobo currently at the zoo born in 2014. The zoo said Akili is likely the father of the baby bonobo that will be delivered in August.

“The loss of any animal is difficult,” said Tracy Fenn, Supervisor of Mammals at the zoo. “Akili was very special to many humans and bonobos alike and is deeply missed. We are proud of his legacy and the contributions he made to the sustainability of his species through the Bonobo Species Survival Plan.”

The data collected during Akili’s previous heart exams are included in a database managed by the Great Ape Heart Project, who were consulting via Skype during the exam. The project seeks to better understand and treat heart disease of all Great Apes in human care through the information collected during heart exams.

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