The Little Rock Zoo lost a member of its great ape family yesterday when Chiquita, a 46-year-old female orangutan living at the Zoo since 2006, passed away.
Median life expectancy for female orangutans in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is 33.9. The average for both male and female orangutans is lower at 28.2. In the wild, median life expectancy data is incomplete but ranges from 30 to 40 years of age. At the age of 46 Chiquita had outlived most of her zoo and wild counterparts.
Zoo staff observed abnormal behavior from Chiquita in the last month and noticed that she was not eating. Chiquita began losing weight at a rapid pace, so Zoo veterinary staff conducted medical tests showing that Chiquita was in renal failure. Medical staff administered her fluids and closely monitored her, but Chiquita’s condition only worsened.
Chiquita was born at the Toledo Zoo in 1969 and was transferred to the Little Rock Zoo to be a companion to Rok, the Zoo’s 30-year-old male orangutan. The Zoo is working with the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to find a new female companion for Rok.
Chiquita made headlines in 2013 when a team of Little Rock surgeons performed laparoscopic surgery on her to repair an umbilical hernia and remove a benign mass on one of her ovaries. The surgery was performed by Dr. Brian Burton of The Women’s Clinic, P.A.; Dr. Julia Watkins with West Little Rock Women’s Center and Dr. Eric Paul, a general surgeon with Surgical Clinic Arkansas. The surgery was assisted by anesthesiologists Drs. Harjot & Lydia Hunjan and Zoo veterinarian Dr. Kim Rainwater. Medical equipment for the procedure was donated by Stryker Endoscopy.
The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.