March 22, 2009

ZooWorld orangutan Tonda dead at 50

Tonda, a Sumatran orangutan at ZooWorld, has died at the Panama City Beach, Fla., tourist venue at the age of 50, a zoo official says.

Zoo World education director Stephanie Willard said the popular orangutan, whose name is short for Tondaleyo, died in her sleep at an old age for the species, the Panama City (Fla.) News Herald reported Saturday.

She was an older lady, and we have been keeping a close eye on her, Willard said prior to Tonda's death Friday.

Tonda had represented the oldest registered orangutan in captivity in the United States.

Tonda, along with a male kitten named T.K., had earned a modicum of fame after being named the second-best animal odd couple by Animal Planet. The duo met and became close friends at the zoo following the death of Tonda's mate several years ago.

Willard told the News Herald that T.K. would remain with the zoo despite the death of his companion, who had suffered from a chronic health problem known as air sacculitis.

Right now (T.K.) is sacked out in my office, Willard said. He will be staying in the ZooWorld family, somehow.