Cobby, 63, who was "part of San Francisco" and the oldest male chimpanzee in an accredited US zoo, has died. The San Francisco Zoo & Gardens said in a statement that cause of death was not known, though officials cited old age. Cobby had been ill, the Guardian reports. He had been at the zoo since the 1960s after being a performing animal, per NBC. Cobby, who was raised by people, helped bring together other chimpanzees at the zoo, officials said. For more than 40 years, Cobby's companions were Minnie and Maggie, per KPIX. "His absence will be especially hard for them," zoo officials said.
Chimpanzees are listed internationally as endangered, at risk from hunting, disease and loss of habitat. There are an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 in the wild, where their life expectancy is 33. It's 50 to 60 when they're cared for by humans, the zoo said. Cobby was an irreplaceable part of the city, the head of the San Francisco Zoological Society said. "Our hearts are broken with this devastating loss," Tanya Peterson said, adding, "We will all miss seeing his handsome grey beard watching over us from the top platform of the yard." (Read more chimpanzees stories.)