Chattanooga Zoo's Most Famous Resident - Hank The Chimpanzee - Dies In His Sleep

Monday, January 24, 2011
Hank with a young visitor
Hank with a young visitor
- photo by Wesley Schultz

The most famous resident of the Chattanooga Zoo - Hank the Chimpanzee - died in his sleep Sunday night at the age of 42.

Darde Long, zoo executive director, said Hank had been in good health other than suffering from diabetes.

She said he was acting normal on Sunday and interacting with visitors.

His body was taken to Knoxville for a necropsy.

Ms. Long said, "Hank was charismatic and an icon. He's going to be missed by a lot of people - generations really."

She added, "He will never be replaced at the zoo. That's for sure."

Ms. Long said the other apes were mourning his loss. She said, "They are very quiet today."

Ms. Long said, “Hank was a very dear
friend to anyone coming to visit with him. He loved his many visitors and could get even the most straight-laced adults to do funny things to garner his attention. This is a huge loss for us, but we all have our memories of this incredible creature and the difference he made at the Zoo.”

Hank was born in the Rainforests of Africa in 1968. He was captured at a young age and was acquired by a circus. During his younger years, Hank was one of the best known circus entertainers around. However, as is the case with all chimps, once they reach adulthood, they can weigh over 140 pounds and become very aggressive. Because of this, his owner could no longer keep him and in 1976, Hank was donated to the Warner Park Zoo.

Since 2001, Hank has resided in the Zoo’s Gombe Forest, an exhibit that provided him with lots of opportunities to interact with his many friends.

In 2005, the Zoo introduced Hank to Josie, one of the facility’s older
females in the hopes of providing Hank someone to interact with on a regular basis. However, Hank always took a great interest in his human visitors.

He loved seeing what type of shoes they were wearing, enjoyed sitting with them and touching them through the exhibit’s glass walls.

In addition, Hank loved his annual birthday parties, called “Hank’s Day”
when his many friends would come out to see him enjoy cake and ice cream. Hank’s guests would participate in crafts and activities that would teach them about the Zoo’s best known resident and the importance of conservation education.

Dr. Mickey Meyers, one of Hank’s veterinarians and a member of the Friends of the Zoo noted, “Hank had a great life. He lived past his life expectancy and enjoyed good health for many years. His long life is a testament to the great care provided by the staff of the Chattanooga Zoo.”

Hank has been honored by the Tennessee State Legislature as well as by many local officials through the years as one of Chattanooga’s best ambassadors.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said, “I am saddened to hear of Hank’s death. Since 1976, Hank was the center of attention at the Chattanooga Zoo. The beloved mascot was a long-term, treasured member of the community and will be sorely missed.”

Hank is survived by the many residents of the Chattanooga Zoo as well as a host of friends throughout the area. The public is being asked to share their memories and photos of Hank on the Zoo’s website: www.chattzoo.org or on their Facebook page.

Hank
Hank
- photo by Wesley Schultz

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Catoosa County Proposes Balanced Budget With No Tax Rate Increase That Addresses Citizen’s Concerns

Walker And Whitfield Counties Each Have Another Virus Death; Georgia Has 91 More Deaths


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ANDERS, MARGARET NAOMI 407 Chapman St Athens, 373033828 Age at Arrest: 28 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous ... (click for more)

The Catoosa County Board of Commissioners will consider a proposed balanced budget for fiscal year 2021 that addresses citizen concerns for enhancements to public safety services and infrastructure ... (click for more)

Georgia state health officials reported on Friday there have been an additional 91 deaths due to the coronavirus. The new total is 4,117. There were 4,109 new cases as that total reached ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ANDERS, MARGARET NAOMI 407 Chapman St Athens, 373033828 Age at Arrest: 28 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- ARNOLD, TRACY DARRYL 9517 LOT A BARBEE ROAD SODDY DAISY, 37379 Age at Arrest: 55 years old Arresting Agency: Soddy Daisy FAILURE TO APPEAR ... (click for more)

Catoosa County Proposes Balanced Budget With No Tax Rate Increase That Addresses Citizen’s Concerns

The Catoosa County Board of Commissioners will consider a proposed balanced budget for fiscal year 2021 that addresses citizen concerns for enhancements to public safety services and infrastructure while adopting the property tax rollback rate. The proposed General Fund budget is $34,200,174 and includes a $3 million transfer to a new Capital Projects Fund. Prior to the transfer, ... (click for more)

Opinion

Congratulations To Marco Perez

Congratulations to Marco Perez on winning the District 2 School Board race. Marco and his team ran a well organized campaign. It is my hope that Marco will take that same organizational skill to continue the improvement of our public schools for the benefit of our nearly 45,000 students. Thanks to my incredible campaign team that worked tirelessly. Thanks as well to the many ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

These two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." In the silence that follows, allow me to welcome you to this ... (click for more)

Sports

Chattanooga FC Strengthens Roster With New Players Before NISA Fall Season

When Chattanooga’s Football Club travels north for the NISA fall conference opener, there will be some new faces on the trip. The club is proud to announce the signing of defender Shaun Russell in addition to last month’s signing of midfielder David Koloko. Here’s a deeper dive into the new players joining the first team: David Koloko: Koloko is a 6’1” midfielder/defender ... (click for more)

Red Wolves Notch MLS Rookie Tanner Dieterich On Loan

The Chattanooga Red Wolves reach an agreement with MLS Nashville SC to acquire Midfielder Tanner Dieterich on loan. Tanner Dieterich, 22, is a Tennessee native who was selected by Nashville SC as the 28th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft on Feb. 25, 2020. Dieterich, a Clemson soccer alum, was a three-year captain of the team and notched 75 appearances over the course of his ... (click for more)