A 21 year-old white-handed gibbon from the Sunset Zoo passed away on Monday.

Dempsey, a male gibbon, was diagnosed with  kidney disease in January of this year. His condition continued to decline and zoo employees worked to make sure he received proper food and medication to help slow the disease’s progression.

The Sunset Zoo released a statement about his passing which said,

 “On June 10, veterinary staff anesthetized him and transported Dempsey to K-State Veterinary Health Center for further testing. Unfortunately, it was confirmed that Dempsey’s kidneys had become nonfunctional. At that time, the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize Dempsey due to the inevitable rapid decline, leaving him with a poor quality of life.”

Dempsey liked to climb and play. Photo by Keeper Rob Chase.

Dempsey arrived in Manhattan in 2012 with his mate Leslie. The pair produced two offspring in the years following and primate keeper Robert Chase said that Dempsey was an amazing father and mate.

“When I first started working with the gibbons, Tucker had just been born, and Dempsey was a very protective father and mate. But as time went on, he and I developed a trust that ultimately led to a bond I never thought possible. As a dad, I loved watching Dempsey play and care for his kids. He truly was a great father. This loss is a devastating one for me for sure.” 

Dempsey with Neta. Photo by Keeper Rob Chase 

White-handed gibbons form close familial bonds and mate for life. Each family also creates their own unique vocalizations and songs, which is something gibbons are most known for.

Following his passing, Dempsey’s family was given time to mourn and sit with him. Staff will monitor the family to make sure they do not exhibit any issues caused by the loss of their father and mate.  

The Sunset Zoo is asking the public to share any photos they may have of Dempsey to their social media pages.