Fresno Chaffee Zoo Mourns Loss of Beloved Female Orangutan, Siabu

Siabu and Hantu. Photo: Fresno Chafee Zoo.


Fresno, CA (KMJ)  – Fresno Chaffee Zoo is mourning the loss of 31-year-old orangutan, Siabu.

The veterinary and zookeeper teams had been treating and monitoring Siabu since she was diagnosed with oral cancer in February.

She underwent several surgeries as well as chemotherapy in an attempt to remove and prevent the spread of her cancer.

Throughout Siabu’s advanced and extensive treatments, the top priority was maintaining a positive quality of life for her. Recently, she showed increased discomfort and examinations revealed that the tumor growth had advanced.

Because the cancer had spread to the point that further treatment would not be effective and she was experiencing discomfort, the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize her.

“Siabu received excellent care throughout her life, including during her treatment over the last several months. Our zookeeper and veterinary teams consulted with local doctors and surgeons to provide her the best care and prognosis. We are so grateful to those partners who aided in all of our efforts to treat her,” said Dr. Shannon Nodolf, Chief Veterinary Officer.

Siabu came to Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 2001 from Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

She was part of Fresno Chaffee Zoo for almost 20 years and gave birth twice, to female Ndari in 2010 and male Hantu in 2018.

Animal care staff remember Siabu as sassy, tenacious and feisty. She was known for investigating any enrichment items and solving any puzzle she was given. She was a devoted mom to both her offspring and built the best nest every night where she would sleep and cuddle with them.

The animal care team has been working with the orangutans to acclimate the group to help with caring for and raising Hantu.

In April, Fresno Chaffee Zoo mourned the passing of Sara, a 49 year-old female orangutan.

Siabu and Sara both came to the Zoo together and Sara acted as a surrogate mother to Siabu.

The median life expectancy for an orangutan is approximately 33 years.

“The entire Zoo team is mourning the loss of Siabu. We have a number of geriatric animals in our care, which means that the animals here are well cared-for. Unfortunately, it also means we experience some very hard goodbyes. We know the community, who enjoyed visiting Siabu for so many years, joins us in feeling this loss,” said Scott Barton, CEO. 

In addition to Ndari and Hantu, Fresno Chaffee Zoo is home to 36-year old male Busar and 10- year-old male Labu.


Click to listen to the report by KMJ’s Liz Kern: