Fresno Chaffee Zoo mourns death of 49-year-old orangutan

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is mourning the death of an orangutan that had spent the last 19 years in the Central Valley.

Sara, a 49-year-old Sumatran orangutan, was humanely euthanized after a cancerous tumor was discovered during a procedure last week.

The zoo says their animal care team noticed Sara displaying signs of discomfort and a decreased appetite. More tumors were discovered in her body during a follow-up procedure.

"Our veterinary staff and animal care team discussed many treatment options including chemotherapy, further surgery and palliative care," said Dr. Shannon Nodolf, Chief Veterinary Officer.

"Our main concerns were her comfort and quality of life. Given Sara's age and the severe side effects of treatment, the decision was made to humanely euthanize her," she said.

Sara was brought to Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 2001. She would have celebrated 50 years in August, surpassing the species' median life expectancy of 26 years.

"While they grieve this loss, I commend our zookeepers and veterinary staff for their commitment to compassionate animal care from birth to end of life," said CEO Scott Barton.

Zookeepers said that Sara enjoyed playing hand games with them, and also loved ChapStick, tomatoes and men with beards. The zoo says Sara was also known to help raise the babies of other orangutans.
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