You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

NEW: Peter the Chimp, longtime Lion County Safari favorite, dies at 43

He was a longtime resident of the western communities. He never went to polo or had a coffee at the food court at the Mall at Wellington Green. But in his 40-something years here, he still made his mark on his special corner of Palm Beach County.

Peter, a 43-year-old chimpanzee and fixture at Loxahatchee’s Lion Country Safari, passed away Friday, according to Jennifer Berthiaume, spokeswoman for the 260-acre wildlife park. It is believe that he died of a heart attack, a common ailment for chimpanzees, but the official cause cannot be confirmed until the results of a necropsy, also known as an animal autopsy, said primate curator Tina Cloutier Barbour.

“I just remember him as having a really big heart. He brought a lot of joy to everyone who knew him,” said Barbour, who had worked with Peter since she came to the park in 2004.

VIDEO ONLINE: Christmas comes early for chimps at Lion Country Safari

Peter, who had lived at Lion Country Safari since he was 2 years old, left behind his constant companion, fellow chimpanzee Luna, 35, and their daughter, Orbit, 21.

Barbour said Peter was originally a resident of the park’s nursery, having been “a retired pet. It’s shocking how often that happens. They grow up quickly, and have short tempers and are very, very strong. They do not make good pets, and people learn that very quickly.”

One of 18 chimpanzees at Lion Country, Peter “had a larger-than-life personality. He would gesture these huge gestures to us, flip his lip at us. He was a big clown,” she continued. “We all really loved him very much.”

Although chimpanzees “don’t have mates, necessarily,” Peter and Luna “had been together for decades,” Barbour said. When Lion Country staff came to the part of the park where Peter was “to go get him, she did not want to leave his side. She does this thing when she’s frustrated with us, that she gestures to us. We said ‘Luna, come on please, we want to have you move.’ But she was like ‘I am not leaving.’ She was definitely mourning.”

Peter was one of the older chimpanzees at Lion Country Safari, “although there are quite a few older. We have a large number of geriatric animals,” Barbour said. “The median age of a chimpanzee in captivity is 32. Peter had a nice long life. He was more one of the guys. He had a really low-key personality.”

She added that he was the only male in his social group and “didn’t want to be the alpha much, and was very happy to let a female,” a member of his group named Sabrina, “take the leadership role.”

At the time of his death, Peter was in training for voluntary blood-pressure checks, which were “a series of small steps” to get him used to being regularly monitored, Barbour said. Chimpanzees, particularly males, often have high blood pressure, and once they have “positive reinforcement, they can sit quietly and have it done. They enjoy it and get great rewards. Of course, it’s always up to them if they want to work with us. We couldn’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.”

At the moment, there are no public remembrances planned for Peter. The last time “we lost a chimpanzee it was really, really awful,” Barbour said. “We made a big poster board that reminded us about him and encouraged us to talk about them. We’ll probably do an in-house memorial and all grieve together.”

She said that she would like it if Peter’s death brought awareness to the problems of chimpanzee heart disease, as well as the problems caused by owning them as pets: “We are happy to have them, but there are a lot of difficulties in training them. We’d also like people to not support them in the entertainment industry.”

Personally, Barbour will remember Peter for the joy he brought to people, exemplified by his pant hoot, “which is a sound (chimpanzees) make. He made it when he was happy. I always remember he had such a distinct one. He was just a happy chimp.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

BREAKING: Two dead after SUV, tractor-trailer crash in Jupiter Farms
BREAKING: Two dead after SUV, tractor-trailer crash in Jupiter Farms

A man and a woman died Saturday afternoon following a wreck on the Beeline Highway, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. The man and woman were driving in a small SUV west of Pratt Whitney Road when their vehicle crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer carrying liquid oxygen, said Teri Barbera, sheriff’s spokeswoman. The truck...
BREAKING: Woman found dead in suburban West Palm; PBSO investigates
BREAKING: Woman found dead in suburban West Palm; PBSO investigates

Sheriff’s deputies have spent hours Saturday investigating the case of a woman found dead inside her house west of West Palm Beach. A man called 911 at about 9 a.m. this morning to report the woman was dead inside a house on the 800 block of Sarazen Drive in Lake Belvedere Estates, south of Belvedere Road and west of Haverhill Road, according...
JUST IN: PBSO arrests 11 men in Greenacres prostitution sweep
JUST IN: PBSO arrests 11 men in Greenacres prostitution sweep

Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies arrested 11 men Friday in a prostitution sweep in the city, a spokeswoman said. See who’s been booked into the Palm Beach County Jail The men range in age from 20 to 54 and all face a charge of soliciting another to commit prostitution. The operation happened on the 3600 block of South Military Trail...
BREAKING: One of two missing Lake Worth girls found safe
BREAKING: One of two missing Lake Worth girls found safe

One of the two missing Lake Worth girls have been found, a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s spokeswoman said Saturday. Isabel Espinoza-Funez, 12, is safe and has been brought back to her family. Latavia Austin, 13, is still missing. The girls hadn’t been seen since Thursday at about 6 a.m. Download our PostNOW app to get the latest Breaking...
JUST IN: Diaper bag full of stolen vodka, tequila lands woman in jail
JUST IN: Diaper bag full of stolen vodka, tequila lands woman in jail

A 21-year-old Palm Beach County woman was arrested Friday for stuffing a diaper bag with hundreds of dollars worth of Ciroc Vodka and Patron Tequila at a liquor store, then trying to leave without paying, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. Loss-prevention officers at Total Wine & More at Federal Highway and Britt Road in Jensen Beach watched...
More Stories