A baby chimpanzee was killed in front of shocked visitors at the Los Angeles Zoo yesterday afternoon.

The zoo said in a statement that staffers weren't allowed to enter the exhibit and attempt to save the unnamed infant, born in March 6 to mama Gracie, because it would have been too dangerous.

Chimpanzees are an endangered species. The loss prompted some on Twitter to call for an end to their captivity:

Zoo officials told City News Service that a male adult going after a baby isn't unusual; they'll go after infants in competition for the attention of a female, they said.

The zoo stated that the baby was being gradually introduced to its chimpanzee “troop,” one of the largest in captivity in North America:

Chimpanzee behavior can sometimes be aggressive and violent and the Zoo is sorry that visitors had to be exposed to this. Gracie is being allowed to keep the infant overnight to allow her the opportunity to grieve. This is a heartbreaking and tragic loss for the Zoo and especially for the Great Ape Team who have worked diligently to care for the infant and its mother since its birth.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

LA Weekly