LA Zoo's Orangutan Dies at 31

Minyak was the subject of a groundbreaking surgery in 2003.

By Samantha Tata
|  Friday, Nov 16, 2012  |  Updated 9:00 PM PDT
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Beloved, Chronically Ill Orangutan Dies at LA Zoo

Los Angeles Zoo

Minyak, 31, died Thursday at the LA Zoo during a routine check-up to assess a chronic respiratory condition.

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A beloved and chronically ill orangutan at the Los Angeles Zoo died Thursday after suffering cardiac and respiratory arrest during a routine check-up, the zoo announced.

"With all of his medical issues, Minyak’s zookeepers described him as a fighter, extremely cooperative, and very forgiving," zoo officials said in a statement released Friday. "He will be missed by everyone."

The 31-year-old great ape came to the Southland from from the Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta in December 2001.

He was relocated in the hopes that Southern California’s drier climate and the zoo’s orangutan facility would help Minyak thrive despite a chronic respiratory illness, called air sacculitis, from which he suffered since infancy.

"When L.A. Zoo officials heard that Minyak was in need of a good place to live, they offered to care for the animal despite his ongoing medical condition," zoo officials said.

In search of a long-term cure, veterinarians and keeper staff trained Minyak to take his medications, including daily inhalants. And, despite his health problems, Minyak went on to father two female orangutans.

Minyak’s condition improved while in Los Angeles, but his health problems continued. In 2003, human surgeons and veterinarians successfully removed his air sac entirely in a first-of-its-kind operation on a mature ape.

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