Goodbye Fergie




The Johannesburg Zoo and staff are devastated by the loss of Fergie, our female orang utan. Fergie became quite ill and was unable to recover. After conducting the post-mortem the findings pointed to possible end-stage organ failure (kidneys and liver), chronic heart failure and a uterine tumour. The results need to be verified by laboratory tests. She passed away on Wednesday 26 December 2012.

Katherine Visser, the curator of the primate section and the keeper staff that looked after her will miss her dearly. Orang utans are extremely intelligent animals and critically endangered. Fergie has been with the Johannesburg Zoo since 18 December 1986 when she was four years old. She was born in Nagoya Higashiyama Zoo in Japan on 3 June 1982 and will always be remembered with great fondness as she was a character of note. Fergie was a lovable Sumatran orang utan and was recently introduced to an iPad by one of the Zoo staff. She was quite taken by the electronic age. She was going to participate in ‘Apps for Apes’ but sadly this was not to be. Apps for Apes is a programme intending to provide a communication tool for orang utans worldwide, to raise more awareness of these critically endangered big apes and to provide much needed enrichment for these highly intelligent animals (see Both Sumatran and Borneo orang utan species are critically endangered and zoos worldwide raise awareness of the plight of these animals. The Zoo is saddened by the loss of their beloved Fergie as well as the loss of an individual who was part of a highly endangered species.


On average, one Sumatran orang utan baby is born every 6 years to a female and can live up to 35years in the wild while up to 50 years in captivity. Sumatran orang utans are solitary and spend most of their time in trees searching for fruit which makes up 60% of their diet. They also feed on young leaves, insects, mineral-rich soil, tree bark and small birds and squirrels. It is estimated that there are just over 6000 Sumatran orang utans left in the wild. The greatest threat to their survival is habitat loss and the illegal pet trade.

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