POSTED: Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 10:31am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 12:57pm
NATIONAL NEWS (CNN) — Los Angeles Zoo officials confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a baby chimpanzee was killed in front of zoo guests by a male adult chimp.
The unnamed baby chimp, born March 6, was attacked by the adult in the zoo's chimpanzee habitat, officials said.
The baby was the daughter of "Gracie," who zoo officials said was a caring mother.
The attack occurred during a time when the animals normally lounged together and groomed one another, said Jennie Becker, curator of mammals at the LA Zoo.
The attack happened quickly, while zoo guests watched.
"It was quite sudden that the male took the baby away from the female," Becker said.
There was a commotion and when the dust settled, it became apparent that the baby had been killed, Becker said.
Zoo staff immediately brought the chimps in from the viewing area.
"Chimpanzee behavior can sometimes be aggressive and violent and the Zoo is sorry that visitors had to be exposed to this," zoo officials said in a prepared statement. "Gracie is being allowed to keep the infant overnight to allow her the opportunity to grieve."
Zoo staff had not noticed any aggressive behavior toward the baby chimp before the death.
Becker said it would have been very dangerous for zoo staff members to try and step in and save the baby, as the adult chimps could have easily turned on them and hurt them badly, Becker said.
"They're wild animals and unpredictable," she said.