In Bill's Memory
Bill the Chimp, 1946-2007
Resident at the Sequoia Park Zoo for fifty years and one of the oldest chimpanzees in captivity, Bill was at least 62 years old when he passed away quietly in the company of his zookeepers and veterinarian just before 7pm on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007.
Bill arrived at the zoo in 1957 when a group of Eureka schoolchildren purchased him from a traveling circus. He was pretty rambunctious in those days and better known for his poop-throwing than his painting. He had a companion, Ziggy, for some time; the two were more competitive rivals than friends. After Ziggy’s death in 1996, Bill showed no signs of depression, but instead responded enthusiastically to the added space and attention.
He clearly preferred the companionship of his human keepers and his many visitors. Over the years he had been a loyal friend to many, finding time in his day to share his thoughts through hoots and raspberries, or send visitors scattering with a toss of his affections. As he grew older, like his human counterparts, he mellowed, took up hobbies (painting and lounging in front of the TV) and continued to enjoy his favorite foods - in Bill’s case, ripe bananas.
Bill’s keepers lovingly engaged with him in daily enrichment activities to keep his mind and body active, and Bill always enjoyed the regular fun days at the zoo. During Snow Days he tossed snowballs at his fans and hooted with pleasure as they all cheered. At Egg-stravaganza he watched the children searching for eggs from his favored viewing platform, and at Boo at the Zoo he always seemed interested in what people would be wearing next.
Most of all, Bill enjoyed interacting with his visitors, and always acknowledged his old friends with a wave or a nod of his wise old head.
This page is dedicated to Bill and the fond memories we all have of him.
Videos: Top - Footage of Bill at Sequoia Park Zoo. Bottom - Melody Walker and Jacob Groopman perform "Billy the Champ," a tribute to Bill, in 2012.