We are deeply saddened to have said a final goodnight to Rajang

It is with a very heavy heart that we have had to say a final goodnight to our fellow friend Rajang on Wednesday 12th December.

Our dear Orangutan, Rajang, was a grand old age of 50 years and over the past few years of his life, he had been receiving treatments for chronic arthritis and other health problems that come with old age. Rajang responded well to these treatments and our veterinarians, whom closely monitored his condition, felt satisfied that his level of care and welfare was being taken care of. However, in the last few months it became clear that Rajang had been experiencing periods of losing focus similar to that of what we may expect in someone with a degenerating neurological condition. Our experienced veterinary team prescribed medication to help Rajang with this but unfortunately, these symptoms have an inevitable effect and Rajang’s condition further deteriorated. The most difficult but kindest decision to put Rajang to sleep had to be made to prevent our beautiful orangutan friend from suffering.

Colchester Zoo was Rajang’s home since 1980 and he has been one of the most popular residents with both visitors and staff alike since his arrival. We all knew that one day this day would come as Rajang became older that it would be very hard however, nothing can ever prepare you for the emotions you feel after the passing of a loved one who you have known for almost all their life and in some cases in throughout all of our own lives. Rajang had a very special bond with his keepers, some of whom he had known for the majority of his adult life, a bond that is irreplaceable and one which will never be forgotten.

All the animals in our care have their individual personalities which we all fall in love with but Rajang was one of a kind with a personality so unique, fascinating, loving and interesting. Rajang always had a twinkle in his eye and despite Orangutans not having the same facial muscles to express their emotions the way in which humans do, Rajang communicated with his keepers and visitors through his beautiful eyes and expressions he would make with his mouth. Rajang always showed interest in people, and no doubt there will be a number of pregnant visitors who experienced Rajang ‘kissing’ their baby bumps, something he became world famous for through viral videos. Rajang would also copy his keepers’ actions, so much so that they would give him similar utensils to be able to fulfil the actions he was seeing; Rajang cleaned his own windows and also done some gardening by putting a plant in a flower pot after watching the gardener! It’s moments like these that we will treasure forever.

We have many memories of Rajang which we would like to share so generations to come know just how much of an amazing Orangutan once lived here at Colchester Zoo. We recognise that there are many visitors that have grown up knowing Rajang and who visited him regularly. To ensure we capture all of your beautiful memories we are going to site a special book at Orangutan Forest where we kindly ask you to write your fondest memories of Rajang and express any messages you would like to Rajang.

Rajang celebrated his 50th birthday on the 14th June 2018, to mark this special occasion we commissioned an artist to draw a limited-edition portrait of Rajang. For those who would like to remember Rajang with their own print of our friend, we have a limited number of prints available to purchase from our gift shop.

In the near future we will be renaming Orangutan Forest to include Rajang’s name to ensure his legacy lives on. The gardens by All Saints Church, which is sited next to Rajang’s home, will also be dedicated to him with a timeline of Rajang’s life for all to read and reminisce.

Rajang has been one of the most amazing ambassadors for his species which is so vitally important especially right now with the effect of deforestation which is reducing the number of orangutans in the wild. Colchester Zoo’s charity Action for the Wild already raises funds and supports Orangutan Appeal UK and the Orangutan Foundation but in loving memory of Rajang we would like to appeal for further support for his cousins in the wild. To find out more about Action for the Wild or to make a donation please visit our charity website here

Sleep tight Rajang, you will be missed but never forgotten.   

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