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Oldest Orangutan In U.S. Put Down At Sacramento Zoo

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Ginger, a female Sumtran orangutan, was put down at age 56 on Tuesday at the Sacramento Zoo. (credit: Sacramento Zoo)

Ginger, a female Sumtran orangutan, was put down at age 56 on Tuesday at the Sacramento Zoo. (credit: Sacramento Zoo)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The oldest Sumatran orangutan in the United States was put to sleep Tuesday morning at the Sacramento Zoo, according to a zoo press release.

Ginger was 56. She was born on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia 1955 and came to the Sacramento Zoo in 1984.

“Ginger has always been a strong personality … even with keepers, she could be strong-willed,” said Leslie Field, the zoo’s supervisor of mammals. “As the matriarch of the orangutan group, Ginger was a spectacular ambassador for wildlife; she inspired and motivated zoo visitors to take an active role in conservation.”

Ginger was being treated for age-related illnesses, including arthritis, for some time, the zoo said. More recently, Sacramento Zoo veterinary and animal care staff attempted to treat neurological issues that had affected her eyesight and coordination. Ginger was not physically able to move inside from her habitat Monday night.

After consideration among zoo administrators, animal care and veterinary staff, the decision was made to euthanize her to avoid any suffering, the zoo said.

Sumatran orangutans are listed as endangered and are especially vulnerable to loss of habitat because they are only found on one small island. There are only 20,000 to 30,000 orangutans left in the wild. Orangutans can live up to 30 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity.

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