Zoo's 'mischievous, but sweet' orangutan, Kutai, dies after illness

Zoo's 'mischievous, but sweet' orangutan, Kutai, dies after illness
Kutai, the male orangutan at the Oregon Zoo looks through the glass in his exhibit. © Oregon Zoo / Photo by Carli Davidson

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Zoo says 20-year-old orangutan Kutai has died following an illness.
   
The zoo's lead veterinarian, Mitch Finnegan, said Sunday that the loss of Kutai is devastating for everyone at the zoo. Finnegan said the zoo's staff had been treating Kutai for medical issues since last month and had tried to help him with two surgeries in the past week.

According to the zoo, Kutai had been responding well to treatment but his condition took a turn for the worse Saturday morning and died in the afternoon.

"Our animal-care staff did all we could for Kutai, but we just couldn't help him through this," Finnegan said.

Zookeepers first noticed something was wrong in December when he lost his appetite and became less active. Veterinarians suspected he had airsacculitis.

"Orangutans have inflatable air sacs along the sides of the neck, which can be prone to infection," Finnegan said. "We scoped those in Kutai and found there were openings between one of the air sacs and his trachea. At that point, we thought he had pneumonia."

Kutai was born in 1993 at Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kan., and arrived in Portland in 2001. The orangutan's grandmother is 54 years old and still a resident at the Oregon Zoo.
   
Zoo staff described Kutai as extremely intelligent. Zoo director Kim Smith says he was mischievous but sweet.