"Ape Who Went to College" Dies

Chantek

Chantek

He learnt to clean his room, to make and use tools, and to communicate in American...

According to Zoo Atlanta, at 39, Chantek was one of the oldest living male orangutans within the North American population. On Monday, Chantek, a 39-year-old male orangutan, died from health complications.

The zoo said Chantek was being treated for heart disease.

Orangutans typically live about 35-45 years in the wild.

Chantek, lived the majority of his life in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chantek's rise to worldwide fame came nine months after his birth at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Georgia, when he was transferred to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to live with Dr Miles.

According to the documentary Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 2014, Chantek with Miles, the native orangutan of Indonesia was taught using a variety of equipment and memorized the path from the university to Dairy Queen.

Miles founded the Chantek Foundation to support cultural research with Chantek, to understand the nature of orangutan communicative ability and intelligence, to develop and foster the growth of other great apes and to promote conservation while building a bridge between the species. The ape used his allowance to negotiate for his favorite treats, like auto rides and fast food. In addition to forming bonds with his human caregivers, he formed close relationships with Zoo Atlanta's other orangutans, Madu, 34, Demadi, 10, Remy, 6 and Keju, 2.

"He was shy about signing with individuals he did not know and often chose forms of communication which are more typical of orangutans, such as vocalisations and unique hand gestures".

He was transferred to Zoo Atlanta in 1997 and frequently used sign language to communicate with keepers, the zoo said. "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. "It has been our privilege to have had him with us for 20 years".

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