‘World’s oldest orangutan’ dies at ripe old age of 61 as zookeepers pay tribute

An orangutan which is thought to have been the oldest anywhere in the world has tragically died.

Inji, who lived at Oregon Zoo in the US, was euthanized on Saturday following a battle against ill health.

In the wild, orangutans seldom live past the age of 40 but Inji managed to make it to the ripe old age of 61.

Zookeepers say Inji had been noticeably slowing down over recent years.

Zookeepers say she had rarely left her nest box in recent weeks and was no longer interested in food.

They made the difficult decision to euthanize her on Saturday when it was apparent that pain medication was no longer helping her.

Inji's actual date of birth is unknown. She was born in the wild around 1960, came to the United States through the wild animal trade, which was legal at the time, and was brought to the zoo by her owner in 1961.

She was estimated to be around a year old when she arrived at the zoo on January 30, 1961.

"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."

Staff at the zoo have been left devastated at her tragic passing and a video posted on the Oregon Zoo's social media accounts on Saturday paid tribute to Inji.

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The caption to the video read: "In loving memory of Inji.

"At 61, she was the world’s oldest known orangutan, and one of the sweetest."

The video itself said: "Inji arrived at the Oregon Zoo on Jan. 30, 1961.

"She lived to be 61, the oldest known orangutan in the world.

"As the senior member of the orangutan family, she enjoyed lots of special treatment.

"She made many friends over the years.

"And inspired generations to take actions for her species, including her care staff, who now help rehab orphaned orangutans in the wild.

"They kept Inji in great shape throughout her life and their close bond brought comfort in her golden years.

"She'll always be remembered for her gentle spirit."

Zookeeping staff plan to honor Inji at the opening of the Primate Forest, the Oregon Zoo’s new habitat for chimpanzees and orangutans which is set to open in spring.

The oldest orangutan ever know was named Puan and lived at Perth Zoo in Australia when she died in June 2018. Puan was 62 years old.

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