Britain’s most famous chimp – who captured the nation’s hearts as the star of the legendary PG Tips adverts – has died, his devastated keepers revealed today.
Louis, 37, first appeared on TV as simian secret agent Brooke Bond – named after the tea’s manufacturer – in the popular 80s commercial.
He and fellow chimps – dubbed the Tipps Family – became a household favourite and were credited with helping PG Tips become Britain’s most popular tea brand.
But after parent company Brooke Bond stopped the campaign in 2002 due to pressure from animal rights campaigners Louis and partner Choppers, 43, who also starred in the blockbuster ads, retired to Twycross Zoo, Leics.
The pair were a star attraction at the zoo and had been seen by millions of visitors.
But Louis died on Monday after a short illness, leaving behind grieving Choppers and their playmates in the chimpanzee enclosure.
Keepers were said to be supporting Choppers while she came to terms with the loss of her partner.
In a short statement, the zoo said: “His loss will be felt among keepers and staff, both past and present.
“Although gone, Louis will never be forgotten. He will always be a member of our Twycross Zoo family.
“Louis passed away following a very short illness on the morning of Monday July 8. He was 37-years-old.”
Curator Dr Charlotte Macdonald said: “Louis was a very gentle and laid-back chimp.
“Louis never let the fame go to his head, he was very chilled out and relaxed.
“Born at Twycross, he was one of the original PG Tips chimps and lived to see all of the changes – from chimp’s tea parties to the modernisation of the zoo, including the recent chimp integrations into larger social groups.”
Zoo spokeswoman Natalie Gudger said: “We are keeping a close eye on Chopper.
“She lived with Louis, so her welfare is of the highest priority.”
Investigations are ongoing to establish the cause of Louis’ death.
The chimps – born and raised at Twycross – first appeared as the Tipps family in 1956.
When the ads were briefly taken off air in the 1970s sales of PG Tips plummeted and they were brought back after just 18 months.
As well as adverts the chimps starred in a huge range of memorabilia for the company, including mugs, towels and even figurines.
The ad campaign, which was voted the 24th best of all time in a Channel 4 poll in 2009, exclusively featured chimps from Twycross Zoo, in Leicestershire, which this year celebrates its 50th birthday.