Lifestyle & Belief

Phoenix Zoo's beloved Bornean orangutan, Duchess, dies of cancer


Two orangutans watch zoo goers from a perch in their habitat at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo on October 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.



Duchess, Phoenix Zoo's beloved Bornean orangutan — believed to be the oldest in captivity in North America — has died of cancer at age 52.

Reuters cited zoo officials as saying Duchess was euthanized after her condition worsened from high-grade lymphosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer.

"The cancer was incredibly aggressive and over the past few days, Duchess became increasingly weak and more lethargic," Gary West, executive vice president of animal health and collections, reportedly said in a statement.

"The veterinary staff, alongside the keepers, made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her."

The zoo has set up a Facebook page for fans to share their memories and thoughts of Duchess. 

Zoo keepers noticed Duchess' loss of appetite and lethargy only two weeks ago, The Arizona Republic reported, adding that after she was diagnosed with cancer zoo veterinarians determined that she only had a few weeks left to live.

According to the Associated Press, Duchess was born in the Borneo jungle.

She was one of the original animals at Phoenix Zoo, which opened in 1962, and surpassed the number of years that orangutans live both in captivity and in the wild, where orangutans have a life expectancy of 40 years, the news service added.

While her seven offspring live at various zoos around the country, Duchess shared her exhibit with her daughter Bess, granddaughter Kasih and Bess's mate, Michael, reported.

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