A chimpanzee named Mogli was likely killed by another ape after a vicious power struggle, a primate expert has claimed.
The 10-year-old chimp was found dead in a moat outside his enclosure at Sydney Zoo on Friday morning after initial reports falsely claimed he escaped from the pen.
Panicking visitors called radio stations saying they were locked in buildings and told to stay in their cars.
Sydney Zoo in Blacktown in the city’s west said reports an animal on the run was incorrect and revealed a chimpanzee had actually died, but didn’t disclose the cause of death.
An animal expert who is familiar with handling the primates told Daily Mail Australia that Mogli likely met a grisly end.
A photo of Mogli who the zoo said was a beloved member of its chimpanzee troop
Mogli was found in a moat outside an enclosure at Sydney Zoo on Friday morning
Rescue teams are seen pulling the chimp from the water after the incident on Friday
‘It is likely another chimp has drowned Mogli after a power struggle,’ they said.
Chimps have been known to kill other apes in rival groups and even within their own communities.
One ape, a West African chimpanzee called Foudouko, was savagely beaten and partly cannibalised by his own group at a research site in Fongoli, Sengal in 2013.
Foudouko had been the leader of the troop for years when he disappeared and began living on his own on the outskirts of the community, professor of anthropology at Iowa State University Jill Pruetz said.
When he decided to rejoin the group he was immediately killed.
An alpha chimp named Snowy was also reportedly pushed into a moat at an enclosure in 1999 by another male ape and then drowned.
Chimps are known for being poor swimmers due to their lack of body fat, which causes them to sink.
Sydney Zoo has not confirmed what caused Mogli’s death and is conducting an investigation into the incident. CCTV has not provided any evidence as to what may have caused the death.
‘The exact cause of death is inconclusive, and a post-mortem will be conducted,’ a spokesman for the zoo said.
The zoo earlier announced the death of the much-loved chimpanzee.
Sydney Zoo said it was investigating the circumstances of Mogli’s death
‘Sydney Zoo is sad to announce the death of Mogli a beloved member of our chimpanzee troop,’ the zoo said.
‘Once more information is known we will make a further statement.
‘We would like to confirm that media reports of an escaped animal are false.
‘The team are in a state of deep shock and grief.’
Sydney Zoo Primate Curator, Lou Grossfeldt, said Mogli’s death was the same as losing a ‘family member’.
‘Mogli had a personality that was larger than life. He will be remembered for his adventurous spirit, piercing amber eyes and cheeky smile,’ he said.
‘This has been a very sad day for everyone.’
Pictures from the enclosure showed a man in a scuba suit and snorkel in the water as he was helped by zookeepers.
Another shot from the scene showed four men carrying a green bag.
Mogli was remembered by hundreds of Facebook users who offered their condolences to the zoo.
Visitors were told to stay in their cars on Friday morning amid reports an animal escaped the zoo in Blacktown, Sydney’s west. Pictured: Crowds in the car park
An aerial shot of Sydney Zoo in the western suburbs on Friday morning
‘I am so sorry for your loss. Sending my love to the troop, keepers, staff, and volunteers. Go easy on yourselves,’ one person commented.
‘How terribly sad. We were there yesterday and my kids had such great time. Our thoughts are with the keepers and the staff,’ another wrote.
A third person commented from outside the zoo: ‘So sorry to hear this. We’re still happily waiting in the very long queue to come in – many new friendships have been made in cars around us while we all sit and wait!’
In the car park, hundreds of animal lovers were huddled together in a line as they waited to be allowed into the zoo.