This is the heartbreaking moment a zoo head says goodbye to a chimp he has cared for since saving his life 25 years ago.
Touching footage of their final farewell shows the zoo director – also its chief vet – saying his goodbyes to 38-year-old Pipo and giving him a tender kiss as he explains that he has to go.
The agonising parting was brought about because Pipo’s home – the Nicaraguan National Zoo – has been taken over by the government.
As he squats down in front of the enclosure, the footage shows Eduardo Sacasa talking tenderly to the chimp, who embraces him and seems reluctant to let him go.
Then, as Sacasa and Pipo hold hands, the zoo boss tells him in Spanish: “I’ve come to say goodbye to you.”
He goes on: “We have had such a long time together…and now I come to say goodbye to you. I have to go.
“Marina [Sacasa’s wife and colleague] and I are tired, and I’ve come to say goodbye to you, did you hear?
“You behave well when we are not here, and be calm. We are going to talk to them so that they always give you love.”
He added: “Pipo, I’m sorry to leave you… Very sorry. It hurts so much to leave you.”
Then, as the footage ends, Pipo and Sacasa share a kiss before saying goodbye.
Newsflash obtained the images from Fauna Silvestre de Nicaragua, which is run by Sacasa.
Sacasa is quoted in local media as saying: “I am going to talk a little about the life of Pipo, the chimpanzee, for those who do not know him.
“He came from a zoo in Havana, Cuba. He was just 11 months old and is now around 38 years old. I met him in 1997 when we took over the management of the zoo.
“From the day we met, we had good chemistry, and I gradually gained his affection and friendship, because he is also very angry, and with the strength of almost five men, he can be very dangerous.”
Sacasa added: “Reviewing what little we found in his file, we saw that in the small cage in which he was at that time, he had suffered an accident.
“The roof, which was made of pure iron rods, fell off and crushed his little head, leaving his face shattered and fractured.
“A neurosurgeon practically rebuilt him, but there were injuries such as the loss of several teeth or his ‘little sideways eye’ or – as we call him – cross-eyed, but always with incredible intelligence.”
Sacasa said that Pipo’s injuries made him more aggressive over the years.
He said: “He became more aggressive due to the injury he had suffered, possibly affecting his little head.”
So, as a result, he built “a bigger cage for him so that he would have more space, because he was growing”.
But in 2012, Pipo had another accident: “A youth from a school threw a backpack at him and there was a large knife inside. With his intelligence, he opened the backpack, took out the knife, opened the blade and accidentally cut both his legs, causing very large injuries to one of them.”
He said that this was when Pipo became really aggressive, as it was hard to heal him, with the chimp pulling the sutures out of his wounds after the anaesthetics wore off from the surgery they performed.
Sacasa said: “He could not see any group of schoolchildren, and it would be worse if they deceived him into thinking that they were going to give him food and in the end, they did not give him anything.”
Sacasa said that Pipo would then “bite the old wounds until pieces of flesh came off”.
This happened repeatedly, so it was decided to not let Pipo out if there were lots of people visiting.
Sacasa added: “With great pain in my heart, with tears in my eyes, I only hope that just as we took care of him for 25 years, giving him a lot of affection, a lot of love, pampering him like a son…the new ones who will be in charge of the zoo continue to do so, because he is a very grateful little animal.”