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"Father figure" chimpanzee euthanized

Smoke-with-Tammy2_CarolWeerts_SaintLouisZoo_sm_0.jpg
(photo by Carol Weerts/St. Louis Zoo)
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Zookeepers at the St. Louis Zoo on Wednesday announced they had euthanized the chimpanzee Smoke, pictured here with his foster daughter Tammy, on June 22. Smoke was 43.

Updated to reflect the fact that chimp was euthanized last month.

A chimpanzee who helped foster six young apes at the St. Louis Zoo while raising his own youngster has died.

The Zoo announced today that Smoke was euthanized June 22 after veterinary staff found that an infection and inflammation in his abdomen had spread.

Smoke was 43. He came to the Zoo with his mate in January 1994 to help foster Hugo, a young chimp who had been hand-raised, and two others - Jimmy and Mlinzi - that had been removed from their family for medical reasons and transferred to the St. Louis Zoo.

With his mate Molly, Smoke would father Cinder, instantly recognizable because of her hairless body. Cinder died unexpectedly in February 2009. He would also foster three other female chimps.

The Zoo's curator of primates, Ingrid Porton, said in a statement that Smoke was a "kind and sometimes very goofy" father to his biological and foster children.

"It was not unusual to see Smoke do a head stand to clearly communicate his play intentions to shy youngsters," she said. "He was integral to the development of the group we have today, and although he will be dearly missed, his impact and contributions remain as his legacy."

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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