A monkey that zookeepers think was hurt trying to protect his son during a suspected break in has died.
Vern, the tufted capuchin monkey, was unresponsive when staff found him on Tuesday morning, said the Wright Park Zoo in Dodge City, Kansas.
“While the Zoo’s contracted veterinarian did everything they could to revive him, he passed away at the vet clinic,” the Zoo wrote in a Facebook post.
Vern had surgery to repair broken bones in his leg after the September 3 break in.
Police said in a statement that they believe someone got in the monkey troop’s enclosure and took Pickett, a two-year-old capuchin, who is Vern’s offspring.
Vern was very protective of Pickett “and would not have let him go without a fight,” head zookeeper Hannah Schroder said in a statement shortly after the incident.
Pickett was found unharmed just outside the city limits and is back in his enclosure, the zoo said.
Authorities have said that they don’t know who did it, or exactly how Vern was hurt.
Tufted capuchin monkeys are native to South America and spend most of their time in trees. Males grow to about 13 pounds in captivity and the oldest captive tufted capuchin lived to be 45-years-old, according to the New England Primate Conservatory.
The zoo said that Vern was recovering well in a post on October 22, but said veterinarians decided to put a cast on his leg because he was picking at the surgery site.
The cause of death is unknown, but the zoo plans to conduct an necropsy.
Vern and a female monkey named Charro have been at the Wright Park Zoo since 1988, the zoo said. The pair had at least four offspring together and lived with their youngest sons Pickett and Jack.