Sara the Sumatran orangutan dies at Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Local News

FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Fresno Chaffee Zoo announced the death of Sara, a female Sumatran orangutan.

Zoo officials said Friday that Sara, the 49-year-old orangutan was humanely euthanized after the discovery of metastatic cancer during a procedure. 

The animal care team said they observed Sara exhibiting signs of discomfort and decreased appetite recently. 

In a follow up procedure to remove the mass, the veterinary team found additional tumors and determined that she had metastatic cancer in her liver, intestines and lymph nodes. 

“Our veterinary staff and animal care team discussed many treatment options including chemotherapy, further surgery and palliative care,” said Dr. Shannon Nodolf, Chief Veterinary Officer. “Our main concerns were her comfort and quality of life. Given Sara’s age and the severe side effects of treatment, the decision was made to humanely euthanize her.” 

Sara was born at the Philadelphia Zoo and arrived at Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 2001 from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. 

She would have celebrated 50 years in August and had well surpassed the median life expectancy of female Sumatran orangutans, which is approximately 26 years, according to the zoo.

“This is a difficult loss for our animal care team as well as the volunteers and guests in our community who came to know Sara during her 19 years at Fresno Chaffee Zoo,” said Scott Barton, CEO. “While they grieve this loss, I commend our zookeepers and veterinary staff for their commitment to compassionate animal care from birth to end of life.” 

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