India / India’s only orangutan dies in Odisha zoo of respiratory issues

The Indian Express : May 31, 2019, 11:18 AM
India’s only orangutan, Binny, who was at the Nandan Kanan Zoo on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar city has died.

The 41-year-old orangutan died of respiratory complications Wednesday night around 10 pm, said zoo authorities. Dr Sarat Sahu, veterinary assistant surgeon at Nandan Kanan Zoo, said, “Binny also had a wound on her pouch that would not heal because she was constantly scratching it.”

Orangutans are not native to India and speaking to The Indian Express, Sanctuary Manager at the zoo, Alok Das said, “Binny was brought here in 2003 from Pune. Prior to that, we think she was sourced from Singapore.”

A senior official from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) said, “Binny was already old. Every effort was made to cure the infection, including a teleconference with veterinarians from outside the country.”

Wildlife Trust of India Director Dr N V K Ashraf, who researches primates in India, said, “The condition of orangutans in their distribution area, Borneo and Sumatra, is precarious. Society at large must take the message not to use palm oil whose commercial production is destroying their habitat. In fact, orangutans give us a direct example of deforestation affecting wildlife. Orangutans are not migratory animals and stay rooted in their area.

So they suffer more.” Experts say that India had only one orangutan because of higher awareness and objection towards relocating animals. “In fact, CZA has been asking zoos to look towards the rehabilitation of indigenous species more,” said the senior official.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), there are three species of orangutans — Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli. Bornean and Sumatran orangutans differ a little in appearance and behaviour.

Identified as the third species of orangutan in November 2017 is the Tapanuli orangutan. All three kinds of orangutans are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the United Nations-affiliated International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The WWF states that orangutans, with distinctive red fur, are the largest arboreal mammal, spending most of their time in trees.