World's oldest orangutan dies

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Nonja in 2006.
Image: Scotto Bear.

A 55-year-old orangutan named Nonja, who was believed to be the oldest living orangutan in the world both in captivity and the wild, has died at the Miami MetroZoo in Miami, Florida.

"Everybody's very sad, especially with an animal like an orangutan. You see a lot of yourself in these animals. The great apes are our closest relatives. She was really a grand old dame," said zoo spokesman Ron Magill.

Nonja, which means 'girl' in Dutch, was born in 1952 in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra. She arrived at the Miami MetroZoo in 1983. Her death is believed to have been caused by a small brain tumor or aneurysm which ruptured.

According to the zoo, an orangutan normally only lives about 40-50 years. Orangutans are part of an endangered species and in 2003, only about 7,300 were believed to be left living in the wild.