World's Oldest Orangutan Dies in Miami

A 55-year-old Sumatran orangutan, believed to be the world's oldest, died Saturday, according to a Miami zoo spokesman.

Nonja, who was born on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and had lived in Miami since 1983, was found dead Saturday morning, said Ron Magill, spokesman for the Miami Metro Zoo.

"Everybody's very sad, especially with an animal like an orangutan," Magill said. "You see a lot of yourself in these animals. The great apes are our closest relatives."

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Necropsy results showed Nonja suffered a brain hemorrhage that made her pass out and vomit, causing her to choke to death, Magill said Sunday.

Further testing will determine what caused the brain hemorrhage. The results could take two weeks, Magill said.

A typical life span for Sumatran orangutans is 40 to 50 years, Magill said.

Nonja had slowed down in recent years because of her age, Magill added, but "wasn't geriatric by any means."

The primate matriarch held her own very well, Magill said, "sometimes against orangutans twice her size."

"She was really a grand old dame," Magill said. "She really was."