Please join us as we celebrate the amazing life of Duchess, the oldest Bornean orangutan in North America and one of the Zoo’s first inhabitants. Living an outstanding life of 52 years, Duchess passed away on Sunday, June 24, 2012 due to the rapid spread of high grade lymphosarcoma. She is one of the most celebrated animals at the Zoo, and we will continue the celebration on June 30, from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. near the orangutan exhibit, Orang-Hutan: “People of the Forest.”
(Photo credit, from left to right: John Steinacker, Dave Seibert, unknown)
Guests will have an opportunity to bring pictures and share memories of Duchess on a 4’-by-8’ card. Guests can also hear stories from her keepers and Zoo staff, and also learn about the habitat of these orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra and what they can do to help save their environment. If you can’t make it out here on Saturday, feel free to share your memories and photographs on our Zoo Facebook page. Also, in lieu of bringing flowers or gifts, we encourage you to visit our Wish List and consider making a donation of a much needed item for Duchess’ orangutan family.
She was born in the jungles of Borneo where she was orphaned at a very young age. When Duchess came to Phoenix in 1962, it was determined that she was around 2 years old. Over her life, she has had seven children, with three offspring, six grandchildren, and even one great-grandchild living in Zoos across the country. A couple of weeks ago, keepers noticed that Duchess wasn’t feeling well and ran some tests to discover that she had lymphosarcoma. Since then, the Zoo staff and keepers have worked tirelessly to keep her comfortable during the twilight of her life. On June 24, the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize Duchess and allow her peace. At the Zoo, Duchess leaves her legacy through Bess, one of her children, Kasih, her grandchild, and Michael, her dear friend and Bess’s mate.