Sunset Zoo to celebrate birthday of oldest chimpanzee in human care

Sunset Zoo's chimpanzee, Susie, is the oldest living chimpanzee in human care in the world.
Sunset Zoo's chimpanzee, Susie, is the oldest living chimpanzee in human care in the world.(WIBW)
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 5:04 PM CDT
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Sunset Zoo’s female chimpanzee, Susie, is celebrating her 69th birthday on Monday, June 12.

Sunset Zoo said Susie is the oldest living chimpanzee in human care in the world.

Susie came to Sunset Zoo in 1974 and has been living a well-cared-for life of climbing, playing and enrichment ever since. At 69, she far exceeds the liespan of chimpanzees in the wild which average to be around 40.

Sunset Zoo indicated Susie is the matriarch of the group. She has had the experience of being a mom to over three babies while one of the babies she gave birth to at 56. Until that birth, it was undocumented that chimpanzees could reproduce at an older age.

Sunset Zoo Director Scott Shoemaker shared a comment about Susie.

“Susie has always been a perfect caretaker. From being a wonderful mom to being the leader of the troop, her other troop mates respect and listen to our grandma of the troop,” said Shoemaker.

The Sunset Zoo troop of chimpanzees includes Julian, 44, Hazina, 36, and Koto, 10. Each one of the chimp troop members knows Susie and will listen to her.

When visitors see Susie, they may notice she is intrigued by small babies and also those she recognizes. While outdoors, she still enjoys moving around in the yard, sitting in her favorite tub, and playing with her blanket. Her signature “kiss” is something she will give to those she knows.

“It is always a great day when I get to be greeted by Susie and have her come to the glass for a kiss. We have seen her do this for many years, and her loving nature shows through in her personality,” said Shoemaker.

Sunset Zoo said being the oldest living chimpanzee in human care does add additional caretaking, but routine monitoring by zookeeping staff along with the exotic animal veterinary staff of K-State is ongoing.

Animal Curator Kirk Nemechek shared a comment about Susie’s care.

“Susie does get additional supplements such as Ensure drinks and is being treated for arthritis, but for her age she is remarkable,” said Nemechek.

Sunset Zoo staff will celebrate Susie’s birthday throughout the weekend with a card shower in the gift shop for guests to sign. A birthday celebration will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 12 at the Chimpanzee habitat.