Last Wednesday, a 19-year-old chimpanzee fell to her death and drowned at Munich's Zoo, Tierpark Hellabrunn.
What started as a normal day at the Zoo soon turned into a tragic experience for zookeepers, visitors, and animals alike. One of the female chimps, Püppi, was enjoying alone time in the outside pen while the rest of her group were inside. Something, which can only be speculated upon, tempted her to jump over the fence, causing her to fall into the moat around the enclosure. Not even the safety net in the water could save the Chimp, though it is unclear whether her death was a result of the fall or of drowning.
Unfortunately, it is a well-known fact that Chimpanzees are not able to swim, and therefore, Püppi had a small chance of survival once she got over the fence. Zookeepers heard a commotion and rushed quickly to the Chimp's side, where all attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful. Time was of the essence, and the Zoo could not beat the clock.
It is not the first time that a Chimpanzee has fallen to its death at the Hellabrunn Zoo; in September 2007, another Chimpanzee, Franzl, was victim to the same misfortune. Similarly to Püppi, Franzl climbed the fence to the Chimpanzee enclosure and fell to his death. In order to avoid more deaths, the Zoo heightened the fence by 1,5 metres and installed a net in the moat to ensure that any other explorers would be caught instead of dying. This apparently did not stop yet another accident from happening.
The Zoo has now decided to keep the rest of the monkeys on lockdown in indoor pens until they discover the true reason for Püppi's escape and are able to prevent further such mishaps. Eyewitnesses have come forward to recount what they saw happen in order to help determine the cause of death.
Hellabrunn suspects that the normally docile and obedient Chimp was animated by somebody outside of her enclosure to come over the fence. Sweets or other interesting foods could have easily tempted the inquisitive Chimp to defy her boundaries, which she had grown accustomed to in her 8 years at the zoo. Never before had Püppi made an attempt to leave.
For now, however, the zoo is waiting on Autopsy results to determine whether or not the enclosure is to be blamed, and will then be making further decisions on how to move forward. The Hellabrunn team, as well as Püppi's partner, Toni, mourn her loss.