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Auckland Zoo farewells Janie

11 October 2013

Chimpanzee JanieAuckland Zoo staff have said a difficult farewell to one of their leading-ladies, 60-year-old chimpanzee Janie.

Head of Life Sciences Kevin Buley says Janie was euthanised early this afternoon once it became clear that we could no longer maintain her standard of welfare, due to multiple health issues and natural ageing.

"Janie was and always will be a special part of Auckland Zoo and we are very saddened by her loss" says Mr Buley. "While it was a heartbreaking decision, the overwhelming desire to preserve Janie's dignity meant it was the right one."

The last of the 'tea-party chimps', Janie's passing also symbolises the passing of an era.

Janie was the oldest animal in our Zoo family, and one of the oldest chimpanzees in a zoo in the world.

She came to Auckland Zoo from London Zoo in 1956 with her three companions, Bobbie Josie, and Minnie to showcase 'Chimp tea parties' to entertain the public. Changing zoo and public attitudes saw the tea parties stop well over four decades ago, in 1963.

Due to the incredible love and care Janie received from her primate keepers and our vet team, she remained in extraordinary good health and spirits over the years.

Janie was highly intelligent, cheeky, funny and wise, and in her 57 years here, connected with millions of visitors, was treasured by Zoo staff, and loved by many in the Auckland community.

In lieu of flowers, if people would like to pay tribute to Janie, donations can be made to the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund at the Zoo or online.

Condolence messages can be emailed to: info@aucklandzoo.co.nz


  • Born in the wild in Sierra Leone in 1953
  • Came to Auckland Zoo from London Zoo in 1956 with her three companions, Bobbie, Josie and Minnie
  • The foursome were known as the 'tea party chimps'
  • They were here to showcase 'Chimp tea parties' and entertain the public. The tea parties took place throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. .
  • Changing zoo and public attitudes saw the tea parties stop by 1963.
  • Back in their original steel and concrete cages, the chimpanzees were without human contact and enrichments. Their behaviour changed and resulted in aggression. An attempt to integrate the 'tea party chimps' with a group of parent raised chimpanzees in a naturalistic enclosure failed, probably because of their lack of appropriate chimpanzee communication, and not being used to natural, open spaces.
  • Janie became a solo chimpanzee in late 2004 when her last companion, Bobbie, died. 
  • Janie's health issues were possibly due to her abnormal start in life and the impact of eating an inappropriate diet in the earlier decades of her life. She suffered from Type 2 diabetes and asthma.
  • See a day in the life of Janie on The Zoo TV show (TVNZ OnDemand)
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