ZOOKEEPERS have paid tribute to a chimpanzee who spent 27 years at Colchester Zoo.

The zoo's vets took the decision to put Pippin to sleep after finding a number of health problems.

The chimp had arrived at Colchester Zoo in 1992 aged six after moving from Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire.

A spokesman for the zoo said: "Pippin’s behaviour and physical condition in the few days before his passing had caused the animal care team some concern resulting in the zoo veterinary team being called.

"Pippin underwent a diagnostic health check on Monday where the vet team checked his general condition including an ultrasound of Pippin’s abdomen.

"Unfortunately, a mass on Pippin’s liver was found and other factors identified from his general health check resulted in the hard but most kind decision being made for his welfare to put Pippin to sleep.

"At 33 years of age Pippin was not an old chimp but he was certainly in the later part of his expected life span.

"Pippin leaves behind a great legacy as during his time at Colchester Zoo he sired two young with female chimp Tekita and both of his offspring are still with us today, Tumba and Talia.

"Pippin was a lovely chimpanzee with a great personality and he built a very strong bond with his care team, some of whom had cared for him since his arrival back in 1992.

"It is a very sad time not just for the staff at Colchester Zoo but for Pippin’s chimpanzee family who he leaves behind who will all miss him."