Sydney Zoo staff say they are no closer to understanding the circumstances around the sudden death of a chimpanzee found dead in its enclosure on Friday morning.
The body of 10-year-old chimpanzee, called Mogli, was discovered by zookeepers in the moat during routine morning checks.
An effort to learn what happened by reviewing CCTV footage has provided no answers and so a postmortem will be conducted.
Chimpanzees normally live for more than four decades and the zoo’s primate curator Lou Grossfeldt said the loss had been devastating for staff.
“Today we lost a family member. Mogli had a personality that was larger than life. He will be remembered for his adventurous spirit, piercing amber eyes and cheeky smile. This has been a very sad day for everyone.”
An earlier statement announcing the death on the zoo’s Facebook page caused an outpouring of sympathy, with 944 comments registered by 3pm.
The zoo in western Sydney reiterated that rumours of an animal escape were not true.
Early reports said an ape had escaped, sparking a lockdown, with visitors being turned away, told to stay in their cars or locked inside the administrative building.
Some media organisations scrambled helicopters to cover the incident.
A spokesperson for Sydney Zoo told Guardian Australia that there had been no animal escape, but staff had followed safety protocols after the discovery had been made.
“There was no animal escape,” the spokesperson said. “The zoo just followed safety proceedings and protocols to shut the zoo down.”
“The zoo is just following safety protocols that occur with any death of an animal.”
Ben Pearson, head of campaigns for World Animal Protection called for an investigation into the incident.
“Wild animals like Mogli should have a wild life. Instead this was a tragic end to a life in cruel captivity,” Pearson said.