Thursday, 10 August 2017

Chantek, the orangutan who used sign language, dies at 39

An orangutan who was one of the first apes to learn sign language has died in Atlanta, Georgia, aged 39.

Chantek lived with an anthropologist in Tennessee for about nine years and learned to clean his room, make and use tools and memorise the route to a fast-food restaurant.

He spent his later years in Zoo Atlanta where he was treated for heart disease.

Zoo officials said he had "an engaging personality" and would be deeply missed.

In a statement, Zoo Atlanta said that at 39, Chantek was one of the oldest male orangutans in North American zoos.

His cause of death was not yet known, it said, but vets had been treating him for progressive heart disease. Orangutans are considered geriatric after the age of about 35, the zoo added.

Chantek was born at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Georgia and was sent to live with anthropologist Lyn Miles at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

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