Nearly 50-year-old orangutan dies at Woodland Park Zoo

The median life expectancy for orangutans is 28 years.

  • By Wire Service
  • Friday, December 17, 2021 6:23am
  • Northwest

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A nearly 50-year-old old female orangutan who was known for her inquisitiveness and easygoing nature died while recovering from a surgical procedure, according to Woodland Park Zoo.

Melati would have turned 50 on Dec. 27 and was the oldest orangutan living at the zoo. The median life expectancy for orangutans is 28 years. In zoos, orangutans live to their 40s and 50s because of the evolving field of zoo medicine, which includes geriatric care, the Seattle Times reported.

She had two offspring, 32-year-old Heran and 40-year-old Belawan, who both still live at the Seattle zoo. Melati was best known to visitors as the nosy orangutan, said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

“She would often look inside purses or bags that were close to the exhibit window and point to items that she wanted to see up close,” he said in the zoo’s announcement of her death. “One of her favorite enrichments was a soapy bucket and sponge, which she would use to ‘scrub’ her floors.”

Melati had a disease in her reproductive organs and had undergone surgery to remove possibly cancerous growths, the zoo said. The zoo’s animal health team will perform a postmortem exam to further diagnose factors that may have contributed to Melati’s decline.

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