ANCIENT ORANGUTAN. Inji, an ultra-geriatric Sumatran
orangutan, has turned 60. She is thought to be the oldest orangutan in the
world. (AR Photos/Jan Landis)
From The Asian Reporter, V30, #03 (February 3, 2020), page 11.
World’s oldest orangutan, Inji, turns 60 years old
The Oregon Zoo’s oldest resident, ultra-geriatric Sumatran orangutan Inji,
has turned 60. She is thought to be the oldest orangutan in the world.
"Inji’s in amazing shape for her age," said Asaba Mukobi, the zoo’s
senior primate keeper.
Inji’s actual date of birth is unknown. She was born in the wild around
1960, came to the United States through the wild animal trade (legal at the
time), and was brought to the zoo by her owner in 1961. She was estimated to
be around a year old when she arrived at the zoo on January 30, 1961.
"We’re thankful that we’ve been able to give Inji a good home, but it’s
heartbreaking to think about the circumstances that brought her here,"
Mukobi said. "Even though the pet trade is illegal now, it still exists. It
is considered a major threat to orangutans’ survival, along with human
encroachment and habitat loss from palm-oil plantations. Orangutans are at
the brink of extinction — especially in Sumatra, where Inji comes from."
Both the Sumatran and Bornean orangutan species are considered critically
endangered, with fewer than 15,000 Sumatran and 55,000 Bornean orangutans
believed to remain.
The name "orangutan" comes from the Malay orang, meaning man, and
hutan, meaning wilderness or jungle. According to Mukobi, many people
are struck by the close resemblance of orangutans to humans.
"Building on that connection, we’re trying to create awareness about
what’s happening to orangutans in their native lands and let people know how
they can help," Mukobi said.
Inji is currently off-view as the zoo completes work on its new Primate
Forest area, featuring expanded and improved spaces for chimps and
orangutans. Primate Forest is one of eight major projects made possible by
the community-supported zoo bond measure passed in 2008. With five of the
projects now complete, the final three — new habitats for polar bears and
primates, and an improved habitat for rhinos — are being managed as a single
The Oregon Zoo is located at 4001 S.W. Canyon Road in
Portland. To learn more, visit <www.oregonzoo.org>.