Peeko, 23, was a kind and patient leader. His younger grooming buddy, Ozzie, was more of a cut-up — spunky, funny and challenging.
The two Japanese snow monkeys were mourned Tuesday by their caretakers at the Long Island Aquarium as well as by fans who shared photos and condolences on a Facebook post announcing their passing.
The two residents of the aquarium in Riverhead died within the past week of different medical conditions, officials said.
Peeko, on medication for congestive heart failure, common to both humans and monkeys, died “just a few weeks shy of 24 years old, and lived a long, loved life,” the aquarium's Facebook page said on Monday. And, as anyone who has lost a companion animal would know, the aquarium staffers are heartbroken.
Ozzie, the youngest of the aquarium’s monkeys, died from postoperative complications following surgery to remove a stomach tumor.
“His caregivers and veterinarians were hopeful that the surgery would be successful and that Ozzie would recover,” the Facebook post said. “The sudden loss of Ozzie is devastating.”
Those surprised to learn that monkeys are residing at an aquarium should know a bit about the nature of zoo professionals.
When Peeko and Ozzie, former residents of the Central Park Zoo, needed a new home, the aquarium found it had the room and staff to accommodate them, said Darlene Puntillo, marketing director. The zoo community is like that, she said, pointing to bats and porcupines who also call the aquarium home.
As for Peeko, he “was a very special member of our troop,” the Facebook post said, kind, patient and “often the first primate our apprentice staff would be trained to work with.” As the alpha male, he “oversaw his troop and kept order both peacefully and fairly.” He also was quite the ham, enjoying being photographed and seeing himself on a phone screen.
Ozzie? He was quite a character, “a spunky, funny animal that loved to challenge his caregivers.” Intelligent and energetic, he “loved to sit in the spa on cold winter days to keep warm.”
The two, Peeko and Ozzie, could often be found “grooming and interacting with one another.” And they “will be deeply missed.”
There was also an outpouring from the community on Facebook. Among the 124 comments:
“My grandson and I are so sad to hear of the loss of Peeko and Ozzie. We have many adorable memories of Peeko posing for a pic with my grandson. Wishing you comfort.”
And, “My heart goes out to the trainers and animal care staff at LIA. I was there when Ozzie joined the family and loved watching his antics. Peeko was a special guy, too. Sending love to the LIA family.”
In 2015, Newsday reported that “the Long Island Aquarium's Japanese snow monkeys are two sets of brothers: Zepp and Ozzie, and Peeko and Jorako. They are outside all the time, with a heated pool and waterfall. In the winter, they make snowballs.”
Also known as Japanese macaques, snow monkeys, native to Japan, have brown-to-gray fur, short, stumpy tails and “distinctive red faces,” according to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
Living in troops in the wild, “complex cultures” are passed down through the female lines “everything from stacking stones to taking dips in hot springs.”