A baby chimpanzee whose emotional reunion with his mother went viral has died, the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, announced Thursday.
Keepers found the 5-week-old primate Kucheza dead in his mother Mahale’s arms, where he will remain until she is ready to part with him, the zoo wrote on Facebook.
“Our hearts are broken today,” the zoo said.
Mother and son formed their bond in a much happier moment shared by the world. (Watch it below.)
Mahale delivered Kucheza via a cesarean section in November, but the infant required medical observation for two days, Fox 10 reported. Then came the magical moment when they saw each other again. Mahale entered the enclosure with her swaddled son already placed there by keepers. All it took was for a little hand to reach through the blanket and the mother was overcome with emotion. She cradled her baby close while humans could be heard choking up.
The zoo’s Facebook video of the reunion has racked up more than 17 million views:
“Mahale’s love for Kucheza was and will continue to be felt by billions of people around the world,” the zoo wrote. “In his few short weeks of life, Kucheza brought joy and light to so many, and sparked an opportunity to educate the world about chimpanzees, the dangers they face in the wild, and most importantly ― why we should care.”
Chimpanzees, whose population ranges between 172,700 and 299,700, are endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Here’s a clip of Kucheza from just a few days ago.