MARCH 21, 2016

Jackson MS

Jackson Zoo animal care staff was deeply saddened by the death of JoJo, the chimpanzee patriarch, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. He was to turn 52 this year.

JoJo was born September 20, 1964, at the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, Australia. After a very natural challenge to his father for dominance of the chimp colony there, caretakers decided he needed his own. He joined the animal family of the Jackson Zoo on October 18, 1986, with his mate, Belle. Over the next 30 years, he was father to four, and grandfather to three. Still residing at the Jackson Zoo are his offspring Maebell and Mojo, and his granddaughter, Binti. Son, Pablo, is on loan to Sacramento.

Chimpanzees are a favorite with most people, and he will be missed by staff and guests alike. “It’s hard to imagine him not out there,” says Zoo Director Beth Poff, who views Chimp Island from her office window. “You can watch them for a long time. There is a sense of wonder about their relationships and interactions.”

JoJo had a very active and inquisitive demeanor. He will be remembered as being both a definitive leader and yet still a “gentleman.” He was generally cooperative with his caretakers, and also tolerant of his pack’s antics. His youngest, son Mojo, inherited his father’s mischievousness, and tests the troop on a regular basis.

Not surprisingly, JoJo’s favorite food was the classic banana. According to one of his keepers, “He LOVED them.”

Chimps have a normal lifespan of approximately 45 years, so JoJo’s overall health and activity level beyond 50 was impressive. In the days preceding his death, however, he lacked his usual personality when being cared for by his keepers. One of them said, “Even though it wasn’t really unexpected, it still felt sudden.”

A full necropsy has been ordered, and the results will be recorded into the extensive records kept by Jackson Zoo staff.