Rudi Valentino, a male orangutan and one of the Houston Zoo’s longtime residents, has died at the age of 45.
Houston Zoo’s Longest Resident Died
Rudi Valentino, North America’s oldest male orangutan and the Houston Zoo’s longest-term resident died just days after celebrating his 45th birthday on Dec. 8, zoo officials announced.
Despite surpassing the expected lifespan of roughly 30 to 40 years for great apes in the wild, the elder primate suffered from advanced heart disease, a common problem in adult male orangutans.
Rudi is the oldest male orangutan in North America, according to the zoo. He was about 5 feet 4 inches with an arm span of 8 feet 2 inches.
The Zoo’s Good-Bye Message
The zoo posted to Facebook Wednesday:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Zoo family member, Rudi Valentino, North America’s oldest male orangutan. He passed away just a few days after turning 45. Rudi came to the Houston Zoo in 1978 and over the years, he won the hearts of countless volunteers, guests, and staff with his gentle nature and intelligent personality.
“Rudi had advanced heart disease, which is a common problem in adult male orangutans. Up until the time of his death, it was very well managed with careful monitoring and medications.”
Orangutan means “man of the forest” in Malay and Indonesian languages.
Orangutans are the only one of the four great apes (orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzee, and bonobo) not native to Africa. They live in the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
The Houston Zoo saves orangutans in the wild by providing support for local communities to replant forests in Borneo.
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