01/08/2013 10:15 pm ET

San Francisco Zoo Chimpanzee, Tallulah, Passes Away (PHOTOS)

The San Francisco Zoo lost one of its most exceptional animals over weekend.

Tallulah, the matriarch of the chimpanzee troop, passed away January 6 from heart disease complicated by breast cancer. Estimated to be in her mid-to-late fifties, she was one of the oldest chimpanzees in the zoo.


Tallulah arrived at the SF Zoo in 1967 with three other chimpanzees. Throughout her 40 year tenure, she made a strong impact on her caretakers. Primate keepers described Tallulah as "funny, clever, confident and a trickster with a playful personality" in a statement. She loved people-watching and snuggling with her blanket, and could often be found flipping through National Geographic and Bon Appetit.

In her old age, Tallulah inspired further advancements in the fields of wellness and care. Her residence was decked out with amenities like extra steps, hand rails and increased access to indoor quarters. The zoo partnered with UCSF cardiologists and veterinary oncologists to treat Tallulah and other geriatric animals.

Throughout her reign at the zoo, Primate Keepers say Tallulah became the source of several urban legends. Some believe she escaped her cage and wrangled a tranquilizer gun from her keeper. Others say her face served as the model for Yoda in Star Wars.

Take a look at some images of Tallulah and other local chimpanzees below:



Monkeys at the San Francisco Zoo