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Last Updated: Tuesday January 01 2008 14:09 GMT

'World's oldest' orang-utan dies

Nonja

A 55-year-old orang-utan, thought to be the world's oldest, has died at a zoo in America.

Nonja, who had been living at the Miami Metro Zoo since 1983, was found by her keepers on Saturday morning.

"She was a grande dame and I think she knew it," said zoo spokesman Ron Magill, adding that most orang-utans died before reaching their mid-40s.

Sumatran orang-utans are very rare, and in 2003 it was thought there were only 7,300 of the apes left.

Orangutans
A baby orangutan
The name orangutan means 'person of the forest' in Malaysia and Indonesia
They are the largest mammals in the world that live in trees
They eat insects, leaves, bark, flowers and fruit.
They are under threat from many things, including people chopping down the forests they live in.

Nonja, whose name means "girl", was brought to Miami from a zoo in Holland in 1983, according to Mr Magill.

He said Nonja had five babies in her lifetime.

Experts reckon Nonja was probably killed by a problem with her brain.



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