Cause of death revealed for baby chimp at Wichita, KS, zoo

Five-week old chimp at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Kucheza, was found dead in his mother's arms by zoo keepers on Thursday morning.

Five-week old chimp at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Kucheza, was found dead in his mother’s arms by zoo keepers on Thursday morning.


The Sedgwick County Zoo announced the cause of death of their 5-week-old chimp, Kucheza, who was found dead last week by zoo keepers, the zoo said in a Facebook post.

The baby chimp had garnered internet fame after a video of his mother, Mahale, being reunited with him after an emergency c-section went viral in November.

“After a careful and thorough investigation, Kucheza’s necropsy revealed that the cause of death was head trauma,” according to the zoo.

Kucheza was found dead while being cradled in his mother’s arms Thursday, the zoo previously said.

The zoo added that it is unknown how Kucheza may have injured himself.

“Based on the family social dynamics and what we know of each individual chimp, we believe that whatever happened that night was an accident,” said the post.

Zoo officials say Kucheza’s death had no signs of infanticide, which is the intentional killing of infants and is known to happen in wild chimpanzee populations, the social media post read.

“The [chimp] family had been together without incident for two weeks, and his [Kucheza’s] injuries were not characteristic of injuries associated with infanticide,” the post added.

Zoo staff have been using “extra enrichment” to keep the family distracted and provide comfort as they heal and process, according to Eagle’s previous reporting.

The Sedgwick County Zoo said the community can donate online to Chimp SAFE, in honor of Kucheza. Chimp SAFE is a conservation organization dedicated to saving chimpanzees from extinction, the zoo’s website said.

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Eduardo covers crime and breaking news for The Wichita Eagle. His previous work experience includes stints at KWCH 12 Eyewitness News, the local CBS affiliate in Wichita, and as a marketing manager for a local real estate team. In addition to writing, Eduardo also enjoys still photography and cinematography. News tips? email at [email protected] or call 316-268-6213.

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