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Yusufu, Calgary Zoo’s 20-year-old mandrill, passes away

Yusufu, a 20-year-old mandrill who has lived at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo for a decade, has died.

The cause of death was complications caused by recovery from surgery for a serious intestinal issue.

The zoo’s animal care staff noticed a dramatic change in Yusufu’s behaviour during their daily morning check one day in March, including what appeared to be significant abdominal discomfort.

A diagnostic test discovered the intestinal issue, which was acute and serious. Yusufu underwent emergency abdominal surgery where it was discovered that a large part of his small intestine was compromised and needed to be removed.

While Yusufu was stable during surgery, he died in recovery.

A necropsy revealed a number of previous incidents of abdominal inflammation that caused significant damage to his intestine, and also degenerative damage to his heart.

The median life expectancy for mandrills in human care, the zoo said on its Facebook post, is 18.3 years. In the wild, it’s about 20 years.

Yusufu was born at Quebec’s Zoo de Granby in August 2003 and came to the Calgary Zoo in 2014, with his sister Layla. With his striking colours, Yusufu stood out and was a favourite zoo resident to staff, volunteers and visitors.

Mandrills are the largest monkey species and quite social – one of the best-known mandrills in pop culture is Rafiki from The Lion King.

Layla continues to live at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo and staff are monitoring her as they begin to search for a new mandrill companion for her.

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