Chantek, an Orangutan who lived in Zoo Atlanta in the U.S., has died at the age of 39. He was one of the first primates to learn how to use sign language and was one of the oldest living members of his species in North America.
Source: Our Labor of Love
Born at theYerkes National Primate Research Center, he spent most of his life at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, being looked after and studied by anthropologist Lyn Miles.Thanks to his time at the university, he managed to learn sign language, tidy his room and give directions. These skills were shown to the world in a documentary, The Ape Who Went To College, which was released in 2014.
Source: PBS Learning Media
Zoo Atlanta said that Chantek frequently used sign language to communicate with his keepers, but was too shy to use it with people he didn't know. They spoke of their deep sadness for the death of this very special creature in a statement:
Chantek will be deeply missed by his family here at Zoo Atlanta. He had such a unique and engaging personality and special ways of relating to and communicating with those who knew him best. It has been our privilege to have had him with us for 20 years.
Chantek was being treated for heart disease at the time of his death and unfortunately succumbed to it, but zoo staff hope that their notes about his treatment will help them to learn more about how to heal other apes with the illness. He will be deeply missed.
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