Amanda, beloved orangutan at St. Paul’s Como Park Zoo, dies at 46

Published 5:43 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Tim Nelson

The oldest resident of St. Paul’s Como Park Zoo, an orangutan beloved by generations of visitors, has died.

Amanda, a hybrid orangutan, was euthanized Saturday morning amid mounting health concerns that experts said could not be successfully treated. She was 46.

“Amanda was curious, mischievous, engaging, and smart. We lost a beautiful soul,” Megan Elder, Como Zoo primate zookeeper, said in a statement released by the zoo. “It’s crushing for me, my co-workers, and all that knew her, cared for her, and loved her. It’s no exaggeration to say she inspired generations. It’s hard to imagine Como without her.”

Amanda was born in Texas and spent three years there before moving to the St. Paul zoo, where she lived for 43 years. The zoo said the orangutan was known for “her intelligence, playful personality, love of painting and listening to music, and she was a frequent participant in the regular animal enrichment programs.”

Zoo officials said she’d grown ill recently, showing signs of lethargy and discomfort. She’d also lost her appetite.

Veterinary experts from the zoo and the University of Minnesota immobilized and examined her and found abdominal growths that had permanently damaged her kidneys. Zoo officials said the tumors were inoperable, and that her recovery from surgery was doubtful. A statement from the zoo said that caregivers decided to euthanize her on Saturday morning.

Most orangutans live to be about 30, the zoo said, but modern veterinary care has prolonged the lives of captive animals.

Amanda was one of the most photographed and visited animals at the zoo. Mayor Melvin Carter noted her place in the city’s history and declared Monday, Dec. 19, as Amanda the Orangutan Day in the city.

The zoo has three other orangutans: a family consisting of Jambu, a male; Markisa, a female; and their female offspring Kemala.

Orangutans are a critically endangered species native to the south Pacific islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They’re one of four great ape species, including gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos.