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Daniel, a 15-year-old Bornean orangutan at Phoenix Zoo, dead

Daniel Orangutan at Phoenix Zoo.jpg
Posted at 4:02 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 19:02:03-04

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Zoo announced Thursday that Daniel, a 15-year-old male Bornean orangutan who first arrived at the zoo in 2013, died over the weekend after years of respiratory health issues.

He was born on April 11, 2006, at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and came to the Phoenix Zoo in late 2013 to be paired with Kasih, a young female orangutan, the zoo said. Kasih died in 2017.

In a statement posted to the zoo's website, the zoo said Daniel "had a chronic history of respiratory illness that likely resulted in his severe, fibrosing pneumonia."

"Over the past week, his symptoms had gotten worse, and he was immobilized for medical examination and treatment. He went into respiratory arrest and could not be revived," the statement said.

Initial results showed that the orangutan had severe chronic fibrosing pneumonia in both of his lungs, the zoo said, adding that respiratory issues are the "most common cause of death in orangutans in managed settings."

"This has been a significant blow to the Primate team who, along with our veterinary staff, have provided specialized care for Daniel’s allergies and sinus issues for the past few years. The building will not be the same without breakfast antics, long calls down the shifting shaft, and afternoon raspberry blowing," the zoo said.

When he arrived in 2013, Daniel was a "scrawny, unfledged, pre-teen" who was also "curious, a little destructive with our viewing windows, and an all-around pleasure to work with."

As he aged he was "somewhere between a goofy kid and a grown, mature adult," the zoo said. He liked to spin in circles while eating his favorite snacks, and always made himself a nest before each meal.

In April 2019, Daniel was paired with Rayma, a female orangutan who came to Phoenix from the Milwaukee Zoo.

The two apparently hit it off right away. Daniel showed her the training rooms, they slept in the same general area, and found ways to get into minor mischief.

"They were inseparable ever since," the zoo said.

Following Daniel's death, the zoo said its keepers are giving Rayma "extra attention" and would be talking with the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's (AZA) Orangutan Species Survival Plan about her future.

As part of the individual species survival plans, animals are sometimes transferred among various zoos to keep the species' genetics diverse and to increase the population.

Linda Hardwick, a spokeswoman for the Phoenix Zoo, said Daniel was not tested for COVID-19 previously due to his chronic health issues, but that it would be part of pending labs, whose results have not yet come back.

"We appreciate everyone’s support. Daniel will be so sorely missed," the zoo said.