Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: January 10, 2021 7:30 pm
Inji the Sumatran orangutan from the Oregon Zoo
Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo
Oregon Zoo have said a sad goodbye to their oldest resident, Inji the sumatran orangutan. At 61 Inji was recognized not just as the zoo’s oldest resident but also the oldest orangutan in human care worldwide. Wild orangutans rarely live past 40.
“We knew she couldn’t live forever, but this really hurts, and I know many visitors are grieving along with us,” said Bob Lee, who oversees the zoo’s animal areas. “Inji’s ability to connect with people was incredible. She inspired generations.”
Lee recalled the way Inji would amble over to the windows of her habitat, curious to see what was inside people’s handbags, purses and backpacks.
“Some volunteers, staff and guests would make a point to carry wind-up toys or brightly colored items in their bags just to show Inji,” Lee said. “She remained active and inquisitive all through her golden years. She seemed to study humans and enjoy watching them, especially children.”
Inji had shown noticeable signs of decline in her elderly years. This culminated in her showing a deterioration in health in recent weeks. She was moving stiffly, rarely left her nest box and was no longer interested in food even her favorite treats.
By the end of the week it was apparent pain medications were no longer helping leading vets and care staff to make the difficult decision to euthanize her.
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Oregon Zoo staff are unsure of Injis actual birth date. She was brought to the United States from Asia as part of the wild animal trade which was legal at that time. In 1961 her owner presented her to the Oregon Zoo and her age was estimated at one year old.
“We’re thankful that we were able to give Inji a good home, but it’s heartbreaking to think about the circumstances that brought her here,” said Asaba Mukobi, the zoo’s senior primate keeper. “Even though the wild animal trade is illegal now, it still exists. It is considered a major threat to orangutans’ survival, along with human encroachment and habitat loss from palm oil plantations. Orangutans are at the brink of extinction — especially in Sumatra, where Inji came from.”
All three species of orangutan are thought to be endangered.
Zoo staff will seek to honor Injis legacy when they open Primate forest, a new habitat for the chimpanzees and orangutans which call Oregon Zoo home. The habitat is almost complete and expected to open this coming spring.
A video about Inji the Sumatran orangutan
Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo
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