A beloved animal at Colchester Zoo, who was one of their longest-standing and most popular residents, has sadly died.
Rajang the 50-year-old Orangutan sadly passed away after suffering from chronic arthritis and other health problems that come with old age.
In the last few months, Rajang’s condition worsened and began experiencing periods of losing focus similar to that of a degenerating neurological condition.
Despite best efforts from the veterinary team, Rajang’s condition inevitably further deteriorated and the difficult decision was taken to end his suffering and put him to sleep.
The orangutan was one of the most popular residents with both visitors and staff after first arriving in 1980.
He died aged 50
Rajang celebrated his 50th birthday on June 14 this year and to mark this special occasion the zoo commissioned an artist to draw a limited-edition portrait of Rajang, which are now available to purchase from their gift shop.
To ensure visitors of the zoo remember Rajang, Colchester Zoo are going to site a special book at Orangutan Forest where people are encouraged to write down their fondest memories of Rajang.
In the near future they will be renaming Orangutan Forest to include Rajang’s name to ensure his legacy lives on and the gardens by All Saints Church, will also be dedicated to him.
Colchester Zoo paid an emotional tribute to Rajang sharing some special memories they have had of him: “Colchester Zoo was Rajang’s home since 1980 and he has been one of the most popular residents with both visitors and staff alike since his arrival.
“We all knew that one day this day would come as Rajang became older that it would be very hard however, nothing can ever prepare you for the emotions you feel after the passing of a loved one who you have known for almost all their life and in some cases in throughout all of our own lives.
“Rajang had a very special bond with his keepers, some of whom he had known for the majority of his adult life, a bond that is irreplaceable and one which will never be forgotten.
Rajang when he was young
“All the animals in our care have their individual personalities which we all fall in love with but Rajang was one of a kind with a personality so unique, fascinating, loving and interesting.
“Rajang always had a twinkle in his eye and despite Orangutans not having the same facial muscles to express their emotions the way in which humans do, Rajang communicated with his keepers and visitors through his beautiful eyes and expressions he would make with his mouth.
Rajang always showed interest in people, and no doubt there will be a number of pregnant visitors who experienced Rajang ‘kissing’ their baby bumps, something he became world famous for through viral videos.
“Rajang would also copy his keepers’ actions, so much so that they would give him similar utensils to be able to fulfil the actions he was seeing; Rajang cleaned his own windows and also done some gardening by putting a plant in a flower pot after watching the gardener! It’s moments like these that we will treasure forever.
The zoo made an emotional statement
“Rajang has been one of the most amazing ambassadors for his species which is so vitally important especially right now with the effect of deforestation which is reducing the number of orangutans in the wild.
“Colchester Zoo’s charity Action for the Wild already raises funds and supports Orangutan Appeal UK and the Orangutan Foundation but in loving memory of Rajang we would like to appeal for further support for his cousins in the wild.
“Sleep tight Rajang, you will be missed but never forgotten.”