Zoo Atlanta’s Dumadi the orangutan dies suddenly

Zoo Atlanta officials were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Dumadi, a 13-year-old male Sumatran orangutan, who was found deceased by his care team in the early morning hours of March 19.

Dumadi had shown no clinical signs of abnormalities in the days prior to his death.

“The unexpected loss of Dumadi is devastating for the Zoo Atlanta community and is a great loss for his critically endangered species,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Deputy Director. “We are doing all that we can to understand what happened.”


A necropsy, or the non-human equivalent of an autopsy, will be performed through the Zoo’s partnership with the University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine, in an effort to learn more about the cause of Dumadi’s unexpected death. Pathology results should be available in several weeks.

Born October 22, 2006, at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Indiana, Dumadi was orphaned by his mother’s sudden death shortly after his birth. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Orangutan Species Survival Plan recommended that he move to Zoo Atlanta to meet Madu, an adult female Sumatran orangutan who had no biological offspring of her own but who had successfully adopted another orangutan infant a few years prior.

Dumadi became the second of Madu’s four adopted infants and is survived by Madu, 36, and his adoptive brother and sister, Remy, 9, and Keju, 4. He is predeceased by his eldest adoptive brother Bernas.

In addition to a great personal loss for his care team and the many members, guests and friends of the zoo who had an opportunity to watch him grow up at Zoo Atlanta, Dumadi’s death is a difficult setback for a critically endangered species. Urgently threatened by habitat loss, largely as a result of deforestation for commercial palm oil production in their native southeast Asia, orangutans face extinction within a decade without targeted conservation efforts.

Home to one of North America’s largest populations of orangutans, Zoo Atlanta is one of only a small number of zoos to pursue and attain membership in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil. The Zoo and many other accredited zoos are vocal advocates for encouraging the use of only sustainable palm oil, supporting only companies who use sustainably produced oil and celebrating those corporations who make the switch to sustainable, and raising public awareness of the necessity for informed shopping.

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