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Baby Chimp Death at LA Zoo: Mother, Grandmother Grieving

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Guests and staff of the Los Angeles Zoo are still processing their shock and sadness over the public killing of a baby chimp in its habitat. Some in the chimp population are in grief, too: The mother and grandmother of the baby chimpanzee fatally mauled by an adult male chimpanzee in front of spectators were left to mourn with the body of the deceased infant chimp.

The incident took place at around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, according to the Associated Press, when Zoo visitors, including children, saw the adult male chimp quickly grab the unnamed baby chimp from her mother and appeared to throw the infant around inside the habitat. Guests described the attack as violent, reports to NBC Los Angeles.

"Zoo staff were unable to remove the infant from the exhibit during the attack. Chimpanzees are strong and potentially dangerous so the Zoo’s policy does not allow staff to enter the same space as these animals," explains the Zoo.

The male chimp was not the infant chimp's father, and no chimps had shown prior aggression towards the baby chimp.

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The baby chimp was born March 6, the first baby chimp born at the L.A. Zoo in 13 years. She was slowly being introduced into the adult chimp population.

"Chimpanzee behavior can sometimes be aggressive and violent and the Zoo is sorry that visitors had to be exposed to this," adds the Zoo.

Gracie, the baby's mother, and Gracie's mother, were left alone with the body of the deceased chimp overnight in seclusion "in order to give them enough time to grieve before zookeepers take the baby away," a Zoo official elaborated to the AP. The official noted of the chimps' mourning process: "They're just quiet ... We can't really understand what their thought process is, but we can see they recognize that the baby is dead."