World’s oldest orangutan at Oregon zoo euthanized

PORTLAND, Ore. — An orangutan, thought to be the world’s oldest, has been “humanely” euthanized at the Oregon Zoo.

Inji, 61, was a female Sumatran orangutan and her health had deteriorated.

“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.”

According to the zoo, orangutans who live in the wild seldom live past the age of 40, and over the past several years, Inji had been slowing down, her health deteriorating. The zoo said, “She was moving stiffly, rarely left her nest box, and was no longer interested in even her favorite foods.”

Lee said the decision was made to “humanely euthanize” Inji because it was apparent that pain medications were not helping.

Inji came to the United States through wild animal trade—legal at the time—and was brought to the Oregon Zoo by her owner. She was born in the wild around 1960 but her actual birth date is not known.

“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.”

The zoo plans to honor Inji at the opening of its Primate Forest, a new habitat for chimpanzees and orangutans. It is scheduled to open this spring.

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