Chantek, an Orangutan Who Knew Sign Language, Has Died at 39


An orangutan who reached a global audience in the 2014 documentary The Ape Who Went to College has died in the United States at the age of 39. The zoo said Chantek was being treated for heart disease.

The orangutans are considered to be of advanced age from 35 years "of Chantek" one of the oldest orang-utan male has to have lived in North America, has added to the zoo in a press release.

As reported by Reuters on August 8, 2017, Chantek's death on Monday has left deep grief for many, especially the Atlanta zoo.

He was one of the first apes to learn sign language, he could (but sometimes wouldn't) clean his room, he made and used tools and could memorise and direct routes to various locations, though his favourite journey was always to a fast-food restaurant or a restaurant.

Zoo Atlanta announced the orangutan's death on its website.

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He was transferred to Zoo Atlanta in 1997.

"Chantek will be deeply missed by by his family here at Zoo Atlanta", said Hayley Murphy, the vice president of Animal Divisions. According to a 1997 CNN article, Miles woke up with Chantek at 4 A.M. for feedings, toilet trained him, and taught him how to communicate using sign language. Like other orangutans at Zoo Atlanta, Chantek also participated in voluntary cardiac ultrasounds, blood pressure readings and blood draws, all of which were valuable means of monitoring his health. Chantek was born at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Georgia.

A necropsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.

Watch the incredible story of Chantek, the orangutan raised as a human child on an American university campus during the '70s and '80s. "It has been our privilege to have had him with us for 20 years". The Great Ape Heart Project ( based at Zoo Atlanta is the first coordinated clinical approach to targeting and treating CVD in all four non-human great ape taxa: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos.