The soup has cooled...
From the aerial platform, Junior sees me coming up with Luke and goes down to find his two bottles of soup, because he concludes I had already left them in his window. The third bottle uses to be picked up by Jango, who left the other two for his dear friend, who is very greedy.
Last Friday (June 8) was a miserable day. Non-stop rain, wind and cold, temperature reached less than 10 ° C, which is a rarity in the area of ??Sorocaba. Junior saw me entering Luke´s enclosure and went in search of his soup, which was not there for the first time, because the car which would take it had to attend an emergency.
He walked to the tunnel, as he always does, from where it is possible to see much of the Sanctuary. Jango was with him, as always. The soup arrived in his window late that afternoon. Jango took his bottle and left the other two to his friend. He did not know that his friend was probably, at that time, dead in the tunnel, from where he never went out alive.
On Saturday, 9, when I put the three bottles of soup in the window, I realized that two ones of the previous day were there, untouched. Something was happening. Despite the day from hell, with incessant rain and intense cold, Junior would never fail to eat that soup, which he loved. The keepers noticed that Jango was different, that he wanted to tell them something, and started looking for Junior. He was found a few minutes later, lying in front of a pool of blood, possibly result of a heart attack inside the tunnel.
The part of the Sanctuary that has access the area was quiet. His friends knew something tragic had happened. Maybe Jango gave them a voice alarm, the day before in the dusk, and a clamor broke out in the Sanctuary. Jango should have informed their partners that Junior was dead. We humans cannot understand the communication between them.
Junior was a robust chimpanzee and weighed over 100 kg. He suffered a lot, lived a good part of his life in a circus, where he was addicted to cigarettes and alcohol. When the circus could not use him anymore, he was donated to Brasilia Zoo. He lived there for a few years until Dr. Cléa Lucia Magalhaes, chief veterinarian at the zoo, and the zoo director at that time, Raul Gonzales, took the wise decision to send him to Sorocaba Sanctuary. Very few zoos have this sensibility and they had because they knew that Junior would not last long if he continued to live exposed to exhibition.
Junior stayed with us for over 7 years. He should be between 30 and 40 years old. He lived a great part of his time with Jango, who is a small and sweet chimpanzee is small that suffered even more in the circus where he lived, since he was castrated and had his teeth pulled out.
Junior was a glutton, did not reject any food and liked everything. He had few teeth yet, most of them rotted in his mouth, normal in chimps who were not treated well. He had a tendency to develop small tumors in his hands and feet, which hindered their mobility, since the pain accompanied him everywhere. He lived in an aerial platform, where he even used to sleep. We tried to force him to go down to exercise, putting the food away from him. But Jango did not understand the reason of that and took the food for him. He became his "luxury waiter." When we discovered that he loved hot soup, we started offering it in order to force him to go down and walk.
As long as Jango took a long time to bring him the soup, he used to go down to pick it up and so we were able to make him move.
With much effort, due to its weight and size, many handlers took him from the tunnel. Catarina, who was near, started yelling for help. Chimpanzees know what is death and fear it. None of the chimpanzees of the enclosures form where the movement could be seen was present, since they knew hours earlier - by Jango warning - that his friend was dead.
Jango is unlucky. A few years ago, Gil, a female chimpanzee, with whom he lived, had the same heart attack and died on the aerial platform. Now his great friend makes another void in her life. Hours later, Jango was still at the entrance of the tunnel closed, perhaps expecting a miracle, waiting for Junior to come up with a wide open smile he used to have when something pleased him.
The death of a chimpanzee for the GAP family, in any of our sanctuaries, is an endless tragedy. We know that many of them came weakened for the miserable life they had and that we have limits for their recovery. However, we wish that those chimpanzees that have survived everything and everyone were immortal.
Junior was buried in our cemetery, along with their friends who have departed. Nobody threw him in a garbage dump, or used him for experiments. He, like all the others who now follow in the next life, will always be present in our hearts.