After being diagnosed with a high-grade lymphosarcoma Duchess has lost her battle with cancer. She was 52. She is survived by four of her seven children, her family eventually spanned four living generations. A daughter, Bess, and granddaughter, Kasih, lived with her.
A memorial will be held Saturday at her beloved Phoenix Zoo.
Friends have asked that in lieu of bringing gifts or flowers, visitors go to the wish list at phoenixzoo.org/celebratelife to donate something for the orangutan exhibit.
Having been a resident of the zoo since 1962, Duchess was thought to be the oldest Borneo Orangutan in North America. Orphaned as a child, she was rescued and brought to Phoenix to become the first resident of the zoo. A devoted and loving mother, her hobbies included art and window washing. Her 50th birthday in 2010 was marked by presents, an ice “cake” to lick, a giant card signed by zoo guests and a chorus of “Happy Birthday” sung by zoo visitors. She leaves a brand new $4 million exhibit.
The Borneo Orangutan will be extinct in the wild in as little as four or five years. Their habitat is being destroyed to provided palm oil used in many snack foods.