NewsDesk @bactiman63

Last year, the Albuquerque (ABQ) BioPark Zoo lost four apes to Shigella infection. On Monday, zoo officials reported the loss of Thunder, a chimpanzee who passed away on Saturday, July 9. He succumbed to complications from an infection of Shigella bacteria. He was 22 years old.

In early July, Thunder began showing signs of gastrointestinal illness, and fecal samples from the chimpanzee troop tested positive for the Shigella bacteria.

The other chimpanzees at the BioPark are not showing signs of infection but are being closely monitored for any change in behavior.

Since Shigella appeared at the Zoo in 2021, additional biosecurity protocols were incorporated into daily regimens. Staff are required to wear face masks when in proximity to primates. They also continue to use foot baths and dedicated boots to prevent cross contamination. The BioPark has also collaborated with the United States Department of Agriculture, the Center for Disease Control and the New Mexico Department of Health to further develop biosecurity protocol.

While Shigella infections have occurred in zoos, they are not common. Only a few cases have been reported in the last decade. Everything the BioPark learns about the disease’s progression and animals’ responses is being documented and shared with other animal and disease professionals to guide decision-making in the future. Shigella can also impact wild chimpanzees and other apes, making this information extremely valuable for worldwide conservation efforts. Chimpanzees are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).