After a video of his mother, Mahale, being reunited with him after an emergency C-section went viral in November, the chimpanzee achieved internet fame. Thursday, the zoo they reported that they had found the young primate dead and cradled in his mother’s arms.
The cause of his death has not yet been released, but the zoo has seen an outpouring of support on social media.
“Heartbroken for all of you who cared for this little one, but even more so for Mahale. The loss of a mother is the loss of a mother. Period. Chimpanzees are clearly our kin, and it’s good to see that people here appreciate and understand her pain,” commented Facebook user Ann Kumpe Suzidelis.
It’s one of the nearly 6,000 condolences left at the zoo’s booth as of Friday afternoon.
“Thank you for 5 weeks of joy Kuchaza. You truly made the world a happier place and united humans around the world with love, joy and hope during a difficult time for humanity,” user Marcela Gimenez-Clough wrote in part .
Condolences also flooded in on Twitter and Instagram, where several other US zoos shared their grief over Kuchaza’s death.
In its announcement, the zoo said Kuchaza’s life was an opportunity to educate the public about chimpanzee conservation. Shared via a pinned comment, Sedgwick County Zoo officials said the community could donate online to chimpanzee conservation in honor of Kuchaza.
Donations start at $5 and increase in $5 increments.
World Wildlife Foundation lists the chimpanzee as an endangered specieswith a population between 172,700 and 299,700 inhabitants.
This story may be updated.