Baboon Island, an iconic exhibit at Brookfield Zoo, has closed, officials said Friday.
During recent physical exams, veterinary staff "made the difficult decision" to euthanize its three Guinea baboons, ages 22 to 27, due to "quality of life concerns," according to a release from the Chicago Zoological Society. That prompted the closing of Baboon Island.
Originally dubbed Monkey Island, the exhibit was first home to a colony of Rhesus monkeys in the 1930’s, until the zoo received Guinea baboons in 1936.
Visited by millions, the troop of baboons was the center of entertainment for many at the zoo who watched their grooming, playing, mating and vocalizing, according to a release from the zoo. They were even the subject of studies for students, scientists and field researchers.
Since the late 1960’s, nearly 150 Guinea baboons have been born at the zoo. But the closing of the exhibit began in 1992, when the last baboon birth took place, and zoo officials decided to discontinue the breeding program.
The existing exhibit is scheduled to be demolished sometime in 2014, the release said.
A new attraction for future development is currently under review, zoo officials said.
“We are considering several different species that could be featured in a new habitat,” Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of collections and animal care, said in a statement. “Although nothing has been confirmed, we are certain that it will be equally engaging, will connect our guests with wildlife and nature, and will encourage conservation in our increasingly challenged natural world.”