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Zoo Mourning Beloved Orangutan

KSAL Staff - March 16, 2017 11:50 am

Rolling Hills Zoo has lost a beloved member of their animal family.

The zoo says Clyde, the 40 year old male Sumatran orangutan, passed away as he was being prepared for surgery Wednesday morning. Clyde was going into surgery for suspected air sacculitis, a disease condition that is often fatal in orangutans and other primates, with the goal of removing any discharge from his throat sac.

“This condition is relatively common in orangutans and we have been fortunate that Clyde has not had this issue previously,” stated Danelle Okeson, Rolling Hills Zoo DVM.

A medical team, which included zoo veterinarians with extensive experience in treating this condition in both captive orangutans and orangutans in sanctuaries in Borneo, had been assembled for the procedure.

The procedure was complicated due to swelling in his throat and possibly by complications with other bodily organs.  As a 40 year old orangutan, Clyde was also being treated for age-related kidney disease.

A fan favorite at Rolling Hills Zoo, Clyde had already outlived the average 28 year life expectancy of orangutans (according to the AZA’s MLE lifespan tables).  Born August 1976 at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Clyde came to Rolling Hills Zoo based on an SSP recommendation as a non-breeder in 2011 from the San Diego Zoo.

Prior to coming to Rolling Hills Zoo, Clyde had sired two male offspring.  Satu, who at the age of 21 still resides at San Diego Zoo and has fathered a three year old female.  Cinta, age 13, lives at the Saint Louis Zoo and has fathered a 2 year old female, Ginger.

Clyde has been a gentle partner for Rusa, Rolling Hills Zoo’s female orangutan.  From the day they were introduced he impressed her and she was often found near him.  He succumbed to her every whim and let her take whatever she wanted – even the food right out of his mouth.  If she was out of sight he would look through the door just to make sure that she was still there.

Clyde was affectionately called, “a grumpy old man” by his caretakers, and at age 40 he did things in his time while teaching them patience.  He was also featured in the 2016 April issue of National Geographic as part of Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark.

Clyde’s body will be transported to K-State for a necropsy to affirm the exact cause of death.