Learn more about Duchess, the oldest orangutan in a North American zoo, who died this week.
A beloved Bornean orangutan died at the Phoenix Zoo on Sunday after a weeks-long battle with cancer. She was 52.
Duchess was considered the matriarch of the zoo. She had been living at the zoo for 50 years, although she was born in the jungles of Borneo. She was orphaned at a young age, and arrived at the Phoenix Zoo when she was 2.
"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, said in a statement. "The veterinary staff, alongside the keepers, made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her."
During her life, she gave birth to 7 offspring. Her family eventually spanned four generations.
"Although we are deeply saddened by Duchess's passing, she long surpassed the number of years that orangutans live in zoos and preserves, as well as in the wild," said Bert Castro, the zoo's president.
It is common for orangutans to live 30 years in the wild, and 40 in captivity.
In March 2010, when Duchess turned 50, the zoo hosted an all-day celebration and gave her a frozen treat with her favorite fruit inside, a giant birthday card, and a "Happy Birthday" song from visitors.
Thanks to the Huffington Post for this story.
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