The Last Original PG Tips Chimpanzee Has Died

Choppers who was the last of the original PG Tips chimpanzees has died at Twycross Zoo.

She was 48 years old and famous for her role as Ada in adverts for a popular tea brand that were broadcast in the 70’s and 80’s

Choppers had been left psychologically scarred by her spell in the limelight and had to endure time in rehab to help her mix with other chimps


The BBC reports:

The zoo said the “much-loved” ape had signs of heart and liver failure and the decision to put her to sleep was made on Wednesday.

In 2014, the zoo told the BBC the use of apes on television had been wrong and Choppers was “mixed up” as a result.

‘Sadly missed’

Chimps like Choppers were trained by Twycross, in Leicestershire.

They were dressed up in clothes and lip-synced with the voices of actors such as Peter Sellers and Bob Monkhouse.

They also appeared in children’s shows Tiswas and Blue Peter and their messy tea parties were a big hit with the public.

After about 30 years the zoo ended its agreement for its apes to be used in advertising, but chimpanzees from abroad still appeared in tea adverts until 2003.

Twycross, which benefitted from revenue raised from the PG Tips ads, has since said the use of the apes was wrong.

As a baby, Choppers was rescued from poachers in Liberia by a British couple who brought her to be cared for at Twycross in 1973.

However, a life in TV had a damaging effect on the ape and it was only in her twilight years that she learned how to behave like a chimpanzee, zoo bosses said.

After her co-habitant Louis, who played Mr Shifter in the PG Tips adverts, died in their enclosure in July 2013, Choppers was introduced to the other apes in the zoo’s collection.

It was an attempt to encourage her to exhibit more chimp-like behaviour and according to Dr Charlotte Macdonald, director of life sciences at the zoo, Choppers took to it well.

“She loved grooming the other chimps and even the keepers, she was very friendly and sociable,” she said.

“She integrated well into the larger group [after Louis died] and acted as a peacemaker, she wanted to be everyone’s friend.

“We are very upset and she will be sadly missed.”