SF Zoo’s Oldest Living Male Chimpanzee In North America Has Died At 63

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One of the oldest living chimpanzees in the world was living right here in San Francisco at the SF Zoo, but passed away Saturday. Cobby, the oldest male chimpanzee in North America, starred in his youth on an early 1960s Australian TV show called Cobby’s Hobbies, but took residence at the San Francisco Zoo when he was just 7 years old. There he would make a name for himself “resting on the various platforms, snacking on his favorite foods, climbing up high, and interacting with his keepers,” according to the SF Zoo. Cobby was 63.

“Our hearts are broken with this devastating loss,” SF Zoological Society CEO and executive director Tanya M. Peterson said in a statement. “Cobby was both a charismatic and compassionate leader of our chimpanzee troop. For so many years, he was a protective companion, demonstrating patience and resiliency. He also was a favorite of visitors and staff, recognizing so many of us. He was one of the first animals whom I personally knew as Director. His death will be felt deeply by our staff, many of whom cared for him for decades.”

Cobby was actually a TV star in Australia for about a year, and the subject of a 2020 documentary COBBY: The Other Side of Cute, whose trailer is seen above. The film is available for streaming on Amazon, though regrettably, it seems like Cobby was treated horribly in his show business days, and found a much better life at the SF Zoo.

While Cobby’s two surviving female companions at the SF Zoo Minnie and Maggie are both 52, the oldest living chimp in North America remains Suzie, a 67-year-old chimp at the Kansas City Zoo. According to Gizmodo, the oldest ever living chimp in the US was Little Mama, who died at a Florida safari in 2017.

“Cobby was part of San Francisco,” Peterson added. “He touched so many lives, and people have so many memories of him. He is irreplaceable, and our hearts are broken. We will all miss seeing his handsome grey beard watching over us from the top platform of the yard.”

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