Dumai’s keepers say he was a ‘chilled guy’

The 26-year-old orangutan died yesterday while undergoing a full medical exam.

Dumai, the last orangutan at the Joburg Zoo has died. Picture: Christina Marie Fenske

JOHANNESBURG -The death of Joburg Zoo's last remaining orangutan has been described as a "huge loss" and a blow to efforts to educate people about an endangered species of primates.

Dumai, who died during a medical check-up, was labelled a "chilled dude" and a "hairy guy" who loved puzzles and had a sweet tooth.

He died yesterday while undergoing a full medical examination for which he had to be put under general anaesthetic and during which he suffered heart failure.

He was 26 years old and had been at the zoo for 22 of those years.

Curator of primates at the zoo, Katherine Visser, says Dumai didn't have many facial expressions and always looked serious but his keepers developed a special bond with him.

"We had a lot of special moments with him. I mean they become like family members," she said.

Dr Kresen Pillay says Dumai had underlying heart problems which they had no choice but to investigate.

"He was a very docile guy. He was just relaxed", said the doctor when he described the animal.

Dumai spent much of his life with a female companion but she died a couple of years ago and the two of them never managed to breed.