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Saint Louis Zoo saddened by death of male Orangutan Robert B

Death Resulted from Complications from Air Sac, Respiratory Tract Infections

Robert B, age 23, a beloved adult male Sumatran orangutan at the Saint Louis Zoo, died this morning from complications associated with an air sac and respiratory tract infection. He had been diagnosed and treated for a similar condition in 2011

Robert B would have turned age 24 on July 29. The median life expectancy of Sumatran orangutans is 28.2 years, according to the Association Zoos and Aquariums reference library of scientifically valid median life expectancies.

"From the moment Robert B came to the Saint Louis Zoo five years ago, he quickly became a favorite of visitors whom he greeted regularly at the windows in his indoor and outdoor habitats," said Jack Grisham, vice president, Animal Collections, Saint Louis Zoo. "Robert B was a wonderful ambassador for this endangered species that both the Saint Louis Zoo and conservation organizations around the world are trying to save in the wild. He will be greatly missed."

Robert B moved into the Donn & Marilyn Lipton Fragile Forest at the Saint Louis Zoo in 2011. He was born at Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas in 1992. When he was about six months old, he was sent to Topeka Zoo to be raised by a surrogate mother and live with other orangutans. In 1999 he moved to Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, Kansas. In 2011, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended the transfer of Robert B to St. Louis.

Four other orangutans, female Merah and her daughters Ginger and Rubih, and male Cinta can be found in either the Zoo's indoor habitat in Jungle of the Apes or in their outdoor habitat at Fragile Forest.

Both orangutan species, one endemic to Borneo, the other endemic to Sumatra, are highly endangered due to an alarming rate of habitat loss. A global demand for palm oil has resulted in widespread deforestation and subsequent drastic declines in the number of orangutans that survive in the wild. The Zoo's WildCare Institute supports Hutan, a grassroots nonprofit organization working to build innovative approaches to conserve orangutan and other wildlife populations in the forests of Sabah. In 1998, Hutan set up the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme, which has long conducted high quality research and conservation activities in Sabah, one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo.