Sign-lan­guage orang­utan dies at 39

New Straits Times - - World -

AT L A N TA : Chantek, a male orang­utan who was among the first apes to learn sign lan­guage, could clean his room and mem­o­rised the way to a fast-food restau­rant, died on Mon­day at age 39, Zoo At­lanta said.

Chantek, who was taught by a trainer who raised him like her own child, was be­ing treated for heart disease, the zoo said in a state­ment. A necropsy will de­ter­mine the cause of death.

“Chantek will be 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,” said Hay­ley Mur­phy, vice-pres­i­dent of the zoo’s an­i­mal di­vi­sions.

Chantek, one of the old­est male orang­utans in North Amer­i­can zoos, was born at the Yerkes Re­gional Pri­mate Re­search Cen­ter in At­lanta. He was sent to live with an­thro­pol­o­gist Lyn Miles in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee, for nine years.

Chantek learned to clean his room, make and use tools, and could di­rect a driv­ing route from the univer­sity to a Dairy Queen restau­rant, ac­cord­ing to a 2014 PBS doc­u­men­tary, The Ape Who Went to Col­lege.

Chantek was among a hand­ful of pri­mates who could com­mu­ni­cate us­ing Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage, along with Koko, a go­rilla, and Washoe, a chim­panzee.

Car­diac disease is a lead­ing cause of death among great apes in zoos. Reuters

REUTERS PIC

Chantek, who could com­mu­ni­cate us­ing sign lan­guage, died at Zoo At­lanta in the US on Mon­day.

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