Robert: Unga, chimpanzee from “Come From Away”, passes away

Published on March 15th, 2021 @ 12:00 PM


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A chimpanzee who’s story was highlighted in Come From Away has passed away.

Unga the bonoboo chimp died at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio last week at the age of 29. The zoo says Unga started displaying symptoms of a stroke on Friday, and despite treatment, her condition did not improve.

“Over the last 20 years, I have watched her grow from a playful and sassy adolescent into a strong, smart, energetic and assertive female,” said Audra Meinelt, curator of the Columbus Zoo’s Congo Expedition. “Her presence will be greatly missed by the other members of her troop and her care team.”

Unga was on her way from Belgium to the United States on September 11th, 2001 when she became grounded in Gander, Newfoundland following the terrorist attacks on New York earlier that day. The story of Unga’s unexpected layover in NL was included in the plot to the hit Broadway musical, which details how the people of Gander and surrounding communities went above and beyond to assist hundreds of stranded passengers during the events of 9/11

In a showing of gratitude, the Columbus Zoo would later name Unga’s first child Gander after the town. Gander and his two siblings still live at the zoo.

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