A beloved orangutan at Toledo Zoo in Ohio died on Saturday when he was put under anesthesia to assess his declining health and heart disease.


J.J. the orangutan was 45 when he died. At the time, he was the oldest male orangutan in captivity in North America, and had surpassed the typical life expectancy of the animal by 10 years. The zoo’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Ric Berlinksi, reports that the Bornean-Sumatran mix orangutan was diagnosed with heart disease eight years ago, but that his condition had been successfully managed for years before he started a noticeable downward trend for the last few months. “He had been recently having more and more bad days than good,” the doctor told The Toledo Blade.

Zoo vets decided to put the animal under anesthesia to determine if anything more could be done to help him recover, but “as soon as he went under anesthesia, he went into cardiac arrest and passed,” the Berlinksi shared. Heart failure is apparently very common in great apes.

The animal was known for engaging with children while he was in the public view, and loved watching recorded football games and episodes of The Price is Right during his private time. His handler Suzanne Husband says the primate was spoiled with his favorite foods and activities. “He got a lot of interaction and care,” Husband said. “He pretty much got whatever he wanted.” J.J. apparently loved the game show, but they only played him older episodes because he preferred Bob Barker as host.


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“He was an incredible ambassador for his species and will be dearly missed,” said Jeff Sailer, the zoo’s executive director. “Our thoughts go out to all who loved J.J., especially to his keepers, who cared for him just like a member of their own family for so many years.”

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