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World's oldest Sumatran orangutan dies in Miami

Nonja, the Sumatran Orangutan at Miami Metrozoo, believed to be the oldest living Sumatran Orangutan in the world, is seen in this file photo taken in June 2007. Nonja has died in Miami at age 55, a zoo spokesman said on Sunday. REUTERS/Ron Magill/Miami Metrozoo/Handout

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Sumatran orangutan, thought to be the world’s oldest, has died in Miami at age 55, a zoo spokesman said on Sunday.

Nonja, who was born in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in June 1952, was found dead on Saturday morning, Miami Metro Zoo spokesman Ron Magill told Reuters.

He said a necropsy had been performed on Saturday and that a small mass of blood had been found on Nonja’s brain, pointing to a tumor or aneurysm as the likely cause of death.

Magill said one other Sumatran orangutan had lived until the age of 57. But Nonja was believed to be the oldest surviving great ape of her kind in the world, both in captivity and in the wild, he said.

Most of the animals die before they reach their mid-40s, according to Magill, who said Nonja had mothered five offspring.

“She was a grande dame and I think she knew it,” he said.

Nonja was shipped to Miami from a zoo in Holland in 1983 and her name means “girl” in Dutch, Magill said.

According to the Sumatran Orangutan Society, the species has been classified as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union and could become extinct in the wild in less than 10 years. There were 7,300 Sumatran orangutans in the wild in 2003, the group said.