EUROPE’S ‘oldest chimpanzee’ has died at the age of 62, Blair Drummond Safari Park has announced.
Blossom the chimpanzee arrived at the Stirling safari park back in 1972, aged 17, and had been present there ever since.
The elderly ape died on 11 November, but the new was only made public last night on the Blair Drummond Safari Park Facebook page, prompting a flurry of heartfelt comments and tributes.
The post read: “It is with great sadness we announce that Blossom, the matriarch of our chimpanzee group, has passed away”.
Fans of the popular primate inundated the comments section to express their sadness that Blossom had died.
Follower Sean Ferrier wrote: “RIP Blossom I’ve been round chimp island many time she was always there she will be missed”.
And Courtney Fitzgerald said: “I loved u when I was at the safari park u were funny chucking mud and nuts at the boat lol hope u have fun up their with the angels”.
Julie-Ann Cruickshank posted: “Oh no sad news! Remember her on my many visits was a cheeky wee soul throwing the apples one time lol! She will be missed rip blossom xx”.
Writing on the safari park’s website, Alasdair Gillies, Team Leader of the Chimpanzee Department at Blair Drummond Safari Park, said: “Blossom was a gentle, wise matriarch within the chimpanzee group.
“She was a thoughtful mediator, a fantastic mother, a caring companion and she remained at the heart of the troop until she passed away.
“Blossom taught us so much in her time here at the Park and we will miss her deeply.”
Gary Gilmour, Park Manager at Blair Drummond Safari Park, has worked at the Safari Park since 1986. He said: “Blossom died as a result of old age on Friday 11th November. Her passing was peaceful and dignified.
“I had known Blossom for a long time and she was very special to us all at Blair Drummond. She was an animal with an enormous character who left a big impression on so many of our visitors.
“This is a great loss for the Park.”
Speaking to The Scotsman in 2016, Mr Gilmour wrote: “One of my favourite animals here is Blossom the chimpanzee. She is possibly the oldest resident at the park and in her early 60s, so she has 10 years on me.
“I worked with her for three years and if I haven’t seen her for a while I go into the chimp house to say hello. She always runs up to the bars and starts shrieking with excitement.”
Although Blossom’s precise age is unknown, staff believe she was at least 62 when she passed away, which, if accurate, would have made her the oldest chimpanzee in Europe.
Chimpanzees in the wild typically live to between 40 and 50 years.
Blossom is survived by her son, Chippie. The 28-year-old primate made headlines in 2001 when he pinched a staff member’s phone and managed to make phone calls.