Sacramento Zoo Grieves the Loss of Elderly Chimpanzee
Beloved Matriarch "Josie" Dies of Age Related Illness

The Sacramento Zoo is saddened by the loss of Josie, the matriarch of the Zoo’s chimpanzee troop. At the estimated age of 48, Josie was being treated for a variety of age-related illnesses by Zoo veterinarians.  Her condition worsened over the weekend and after thoughtful discussion between animal care, Zoo administrators and veterinary staff, the decision was made to euthanize Josie this morning to prevent her suffering.

“You can’t imagine how tough this decision was,” Zoo Director Mary Healy said. “On one hand you have an amazing chimpanzee that has been a very  special part of the Zoo for 26 years. On the other hand you see a friend who has been suffering and you have done everything feasible to make her better.”

As a longtime and charismatic member of the Sacramento community Josie will be missed. She was acquired from Africa by a civilian in Fremont in the early 60’s. A few years later she was donated to the Fresno Zoo, then moved to Micke Grove Zoo and eventually joined the Sacramento Zoo’s group of chimpanzees in 1986. Josie loved people-watching and had a special fondness for interacting with young children. She would often raise her hand to the glass as a greeting to toddlers and babies and then kept an eye on them while they toured the chimpanzee area. Josie also loved to paint and often went through phases with the colors she used.

She was an integral part of the dynamic chimp group, and a stabilizing personality among the chimps. Josie will be greatly missed by Zoo staff, the other chimps and visitors alike and will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Josie the Chimp Josie with Kids

Chimpanzees come from the central belt of Africa where they live in forests, dry woodland savannas and tropical rain forests. In the wild they live up to 40 years and can live up to 60 years in captivity. They are endangered with their main predators being leopards, lions and humans.

Donations in Josie’s memory can be made by calling 916-808-8815. All donations will go towards the care of the other chimpanzees at the Sacramento Zoo.

Sacramento Zoo – Celebrating 85 years!

Open since 1927, the Sacramento Zoo is home to more than 500 native, rare and endangered animals and is one of over 200 accredited institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Located near the corner of Land Park Drive and Sutterville Road in William Land Park, the Zoo is wholly managed by the non-profit Sacramento Zoological Society.  This Sacramento treasure inspires conservation awareness through education and recreation.  Open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, general admission is $11.25; children ages 2-11 are $7.25 and one and under are admitted free.  Parking is free throughout the park or ride Regional Transit bus #6. For information, call 916-808-5888 or visit

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