Zoo Miami’s 44-year-old Bornean orangutan Kumang dies

A beloved Bornean orangutan at Zoo Miami has passed away suddenly at the age of 44.

According to Zoo Miami, Kumang, a 44-year-old female Bornean orangutan, died Thursday during recovery from anesthesia after a dental procedure.

“We at Zoo Miami are heartbroken over this terrible loss and our deepest condolences go out to the staff that provided Kumang with such great care over the years,” said Cindy Castelblanco of Zoo Miami. “She leaves behind an 8-year-old daughter named Bella, who continues to reside at Zoo Miami.”

The late Kumang and her 8-year-old daughter, Bella, who still resides at Zoo Miami.

Zoo staff say the 140-pound orangutan was anesthetized Thursday morning to have two teeth extracted, which were damaged and causing an infection in her gums.

“The anesthesia, examination, and dental care went as planned and was uneventful,” Castelblanco said. “During the entire time she was under anesthesia, Kumang was closely monitored by the team of Zoo Miami veterinarians and veterinary technicians, as well as a human cardiologist. Her vitals remained stable and the extractions were performed without complications. Following the procedure, she was returned to her enclosure to recover.”

Unfortunately, as she began to slowly recover, her health took a turn for the worst.

As she proceeded to recover, occasionally emitting a mild cough (which, according to Zoo Miami, is not unusual for an animal that has been intubated for anesthesia), she was seen opening her eyes, sitting up normally on her own, and was able to climb to her platform bed.

Then, suddenly, for reasons unknown, Kumang went into a “recumbent position and stopped breathing.” Zoo Miami’s Animal Health team then performed several emergency procedures, including CPR, in efforts to resuscitate Kumang, but sadly, they were not successful.

A complete necropsy will be performed on Friday in order to hopefully determine the cause of her death.

The late ‘Kumang,’ the Bornean orangutan of Zoo Miami.

According to the Orangutan Conservancy, an orangutan’s lifespan is about 35 to 40 years in the wild, and can possibly reach into their late 50s in captivity. “The orangutan has one of the longest childhood dependence on the mother of any animal in the world, because there is so much for a young orangutan to learn in order to survive,” says the organization. “The babies nurse until they are about six years of age.”

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