The world’s oldest recognized orangutan, a 61-year-old Sumatran female called Inji, has passed away at her residence at the Oregon Zoo. However, her correct birth date is anonymous, Inji had been at the zoo since 1961 and was assumed to be a 1-year-old at the time. She was taken to the U.S. by wild animal commerce that was allowed at the time.
“We knew she couldn’t live forever, but this really hurts, and I know many visitors are grieving along with us,” Bob Lee, who manages animal welfare at the zoo, said. “Inji’s ability to attach with people was unbelievable.”During her long life, Inji persisted life and spent most of her days socializing with visitors through the windows of her habitat. Staff and visitors would regularly carry colorful things to help maintain her entertained.”She seemed to study humans and enjoy watching them, particularly children,” Lee said in the statement.
The huge level of communication with visitors and the great attention she experienced at the zoo let her live long past the normal age of her species. In the wild, the normal life span for orangutans is only 30 to 40 years, as per the National Geographic. Inji was also a mother to 33-year-old daughter Markisa, a resident at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in Minnesota, who she conceived with partner Harry at Oregon Zoo. She even became a grandmother to Markisa’s own children, something very rare orangutans will ever exist long enough to accomplish.
However, age did finally reach up to Inji and her health had declined drastically over the last few weeks. She was walking stiffly, seldom left her nest box, and she was no longer taken in even her favorite foods. Finally, she stopped reacting to pain medication, and the zoo medical staff determined to humanely euthanize her on Saturday. There are currently only 15,000 Sumatran orangutans, similar to Inji, left in the wild; the most threatened of all large monkeys, the Tapanuli orangutans are inherent to Sumatra as well, with just 800 individuals left in the wild.