KSDK -- The St. Louis Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its most memorable animals.
Cinder, a 14-year-old chimpanzee at the zoo died suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday afternoon. Cinder was best known as "the hairless chimp."
"The Saint Louis Zoo staff is shocked and saddened by her sudden death," said Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, president & CEO of the Zoo. "She will be very much missed by our staff, our volunteers and visitors."
Zoo officials said eight of the eleven chimpanzees at the zoo were suffereing from various stages of a cold Sunday. Cinder was one of the first to catch the cold, but was not showing any of the symptoms like a runny nose or cough. Zookeepers reported her appetite and attitude good.
According to the zoo, the keepers were busy giving all the apes their afternoon snack when they heard a series of alarm barks coming from the chimpanzees. They found Cinder collapsed on the floor with alpha male, Hugo, next to her. He tried to get her to respond.
After separating the group from her, the keepers and zoological manager of primates began trying to resuscitate her even before veterinary help arrived. She was immediately given emergency drugs intravenously. Resuscitation attempts were continued, but without success.
A necropsy with preliminary results from the Saint Louis Zoo's pathologist did not show an obvious cause of unexpected death. Further laboratory tests are being conducted on tissue samples, blood samples and bacterial cultures taken from the necropsy. Results from the tests are expected in three to four weeks.
Her mother, Mollie, and father, Smoke, were brought to the Saint Louis Zoo to become foster parents to Hugo. Mollie gave birth to Cinder on August 9, 1994.
When she was five-months-old, Cinder began losing her hair. Zoo veterinarians, along with medical specialists in dermatology, determined she had a condition called Alopecia universalis.
Zoo leaders said they were at first worried Cinder would not be well received.
"We didn't want her viewed as a freak so that they couldn't see her as another member of our chimpanzee family who had a distinct and complex personality. Although some visitors were disconcerted by her naked state, most people showed compassion and genuine interest," said Curator of Primates Ingrid Porton.
Jungle of the Apes, the chimpanzees' winter quarters, is closed for construction work. The chimpanzees go outdoors at Fragile Forest on mild winter days.