Brookfield Zoo mourns passing of Ben, a 44-year-old Bornean Orangutan

Ben, who came to Brookfield Zoo in 1992, battled health issues for years. He ‘was such a gentle ape and an incredible father,’ one zoo official said.

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Ben was the second-oldset Bornean orangutan in the accredited North American zoo population.

Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo

After years of battling multiple health issues, a 44-year-old orangutan at Brookfield Zoo was euthanized on Sunday.

Ben, a Bornean orangutan, was brought to the zoo in 1992 and was the second-oldest Bornean orangutan in the accredited North American zoo population.

Ben leaves behind his mate, Sophia, and four offspring, two of whom, Kekasih and Heidi, continue to live at the zoo along with his four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“Ben was such a gentle ape and an incredible father,” said Tim Snyder, the zoo’s vice president of animal care.


Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo

Ben had a long history of heart disease, which veterinary and animal care staff had been managing for more than a decade with medication.

He had also been receiving treatment for severe arthritis and spinal degeneration for several years. Ben had undergone emergency surgery in 2018 for a ruptured appendix and made a “remarkable recovery,” zoo officials said.

The zoo says that in the last week, medication was no longer relieving his pain, and the care teams made the difficult decision to proceed with euthanasia.

“He had a very trusting relationship with his animal care specialists, and voluntarily participated in training sessions and his own health care,” Snyder said. “He will be greatly missed by the staff and the millions of guests who visited him.” 

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