National Zoo Humanely Euthanizes Elderly Macaque

The Smithsonian's National Zoo humanely euthanized its last Sulawesi macaque, a 27-year-old male named Spock, this morning. The median lifespan for this species is about 18 years.

Like many elderly animals, Spock had arthritis in his knee and ankle joints. In 2003 and 2004, Zoo veterinarians performed orthopedic surgery and stabilized the affected areas with pins and screws, thereby increasing his mobility. Zoo staff also altered Spock's outdoor and indoor enclosure to maximize his comfort and mobility. Spock was recently diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. Veterinarians worked with Zoo nutritionists to manage his diabetes with medicine and diet modifications. Keepers and veterinarians closely monitored Spock for any signs of discomfort or worsening of his diabetic condition. In the past few months, they observed a significant decrease in his mobility, appetite and weight.

Spock was born March 17, 1987, at the Oregon Regional Primate Center. In 1995, the facility donated Spock to the National Zoo along with several other Sulawesi macaques. They lived in the Think Tank exhibit and were ambassadors for their species, demonstrating for visitors and Zoo staff the social structure of a Sulawesi macaque family group. Spock would interact with Zoo visitors by lip-smacking, a typical macaque greeting. He often spent time basking in the sun in his outdoor exhibit.

Staff have evaluated various options and identified new primate species for the collection.

Native to Indonesia on the extreme northeastern tip of the island of Sulawesi, Sulawesi macaques are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. For more than 20 years, populations have been on the decline as these animals are illegally traded as pets or killed for bush meat. Sulawesi macaques have black skin, black hair, compact bodies, very small or almost no external tails and limbs of equal length. There is a crest of long hair on the top of their head.

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Photo Credit: Connor Mallon, Smithsonian's National Zoo