Sacramento Zoo Grieves for Orangutan

By Tonja Swank, Public Relations Coordinator

The Oldest Sumatran Orangutan in the U.S., Ginger, Dies

Sacramento Zoo is saddened by the death of Ginger, their female Sumatran orangutan. Ginger, born in Sumatra in 1955, died the morning of October 18, 2011. She came to the Sacramento Zoo in 1984 where she surpassed all expectations, becoming the oldest Sumatran orangutan in the the age of 56.

Leslie Field, Supervisor of Mammals, noted, “Ginger has always been a strong personality…even with keepers, she could be strong-willed. As the matriarch of the orangutan group, Ginger was a spectacular ambassador for wildlife; she inspired and motivated Zoo visitors to take an active role in conservation.”

Ginger was being treated for age-related illnesses, including arthritis, for some time. More recently, Sacramento Zoo veterinary and animal care staff attempted to treat neurological issues which had affected both her eyesight and coordination. Ginger was not physically able to move inside from her habitat last night. Discussion today focused on Ginger’s quality of life and potential for improvement. After careful consideration between Zoo administrators, animal care and veterinary staff, the decision was made to euthanize her to avoid any suffering.

Sumatran orangutans are native to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. They are listed as endangered and are especially vulnerable to loss of habitat because they are only found on one small island. Current estimates indicate that there are only 20,000 to 30,000 orangutans left in the wild. Orangutans can live up to 30 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity.

Ginger will be missed by visitors and staff alike.

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