Ockie the chimp is farewelled at an emotional memorial service.
Ockie the chimp is farewelled at an emotional memorial service.

Staff and fellow chimps bid final goodbye to a zoo favourite

CASSIE, Holly and Samantha watched mournfully as their lovable companion Ockie was laid to rest yesterday.

The private interment was followed by a memorial service staged next to Ockie's final resting place, only metres from the Rockhampton Zoo chimp enclosure where he spent his final hours on Sunday.

Ockie was 38. A post mortem identified heart issues as the likely cause of death.

Graeme Strachan, the zoo's life science co-ordinator, fought back tears as he shared memories of Ockie with the small - and clearly emotional - crowd that had gathered for the service.

"I loved him to bits," he said, describing the larger-than-life chimpanzee whose colourful character had endeared him to zoo staff and visitors alike.

Graeme said it was incredibly touching to see how the three chimps interacted with the ailing Ockie on Sunday.

Equally as moving was the way the trio gathered to seemingly say their final goodbyes yesterday.

"It was nice that the chimps were there," he said, describing how the three huddled silently behind the perspex of the enclosure to watch the proceedings.

"They knew what was going on.

"They saw Ockie going into the ground."