On Tuesday, March 26, 2024, the Louisville Zoo made the heartbreaking decision to humanely euthanize beloved orangutan Teak, following a multi-year battle with heart disease. He was 36 years old.

“Teak was undeniably a Louisville Zoo celebrity,” said Dan Maloney, Louisville Zoo Director. “His remarkable personality made him a wonderful ambassador for his species, inspiring visitors of all ages to care about wildlife.”

In addition to heart disease, Teak was also being treated for a chronic respiratory illness known as Orangutan Respiratory Disease Syndrome (ORDS). His survival to this age is a testament to his resilience and the exceptional medical attention he received.  

While our staff mourns the loss of any animal, we also recognize how profoundly Teak’s passing will impact our wider community. He was a very special member of our Zoo family. We’re grateful for everyone who has visited and enriched Teak’s time in Louisville. Teak will be greatly missed.

Orangutan Fact Sheet

Read our Press Release


BORN:  November 21, 1987
BIRTHPLACE:  Como Park Zoo (St. Paul, MN)
PASSING:  March 26, 2024

  • How old was Teak when he passed away?
    Teak was 36 years old. His birthday was November 21, 1987.
  • Where was Teak born, and when did he arrive at the Louisville Zoo?
    Teak was born at the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota. He then traveled to the  Columbus Zoo in Ohio. Then in 1996, Teak arrived at the Louisville Zoo, becoming one of the first residents of the Islands Pavilion.
  • What type of orangutan was Teak?
    Teak was a hybrid Bornean Sumatran orangutan.
  • What were some of the health issues Teak faced in his later years?
    Teak had been receiving ongoing treatment for heart disease. However, in his final months, his cardiac function had further deteriorated. His condition was compounded by a chronic respiratory illness known as Orangutan Respiratory Disease Syndrome (ORDS). Teak participated in daily nebulizer treatments to manage his illness.
  • Who provided Teak’s medical care, and what kind of treatments did he receive?
    Norton Healthcare Cardiologist Dr. Joe Lash collaborated closely with the Animal Care Team and with the Zoo’s veterinarians to oversee Teak’s heart care. Once diagnosed with heart disease, Teak was prescribed medications that are also used for humans. Despite the comprehensive care, monitoring and therapy, his heart disease progressed to cardiac failure over a 2.5-year period.
  • Is Teak the only orangutan?
    The Zoo has three other orangutans: two females, Bella and Amber, and a male, Segundo.
  • How can you tell the difference between Teak and Segundo in photos?
    You can tell the difference between Teak and Segundo in pictures due to Segundo’s long face, thin teardrop-shaped cheek pads, fuller noticeable lips, and unkempt beard that is the same color as his hair. His fur is also in “dreads” that sway from his arms when he swings, and he is thinner and taller. Teak had a light colored beard, round compact face and cheek pads that are thick and closer to his face. He also had shorter hair.
  • Did Teak have any offspring during his time at the Zoo?
    In the late 1990s, orangutans were divided into two species: Bornean and Sumatran. Teak is a hybrid of those two species. For over 30 years, we were privileged to provide Teak a wonderful life in our award-winning “Islands” habitat — but we also participate in worldwide conservation efforts to preserve these two distinct critically endangered species by not reproducing hybridized individuals.
  • Is there a way for visitors to honor Teak?
    We encourage those wishing to honor Teak to learn more about palm oil. The unsustainable palm oil industry is responsible for wide-scale deforestation and the destruction of orangutan habitat. Purchase products made with sustainable palm oil by downloading Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping App.
  • How are the other orangutans doing? Are they mourning?
    We know that orangutans experience a range of emotions, are capable of remembering and are aware when something is different. Right now, orangutans Amber, Bella and Segundo appear to be behaving normally and are being closely monitored by Zoo staff for any changes. While orangutans are semi-social animals, their reactions can vary widely based on individual personality and the nature of their relationship with the orangutan who passed away.
  • What will happen to Teak’s body?
    A necropsy will be performed to fully understand the scope of Teak’s illness. Tissue and other samples will be saved for future research to add to the canon of what we know about orangutans. Teak will then be cremated and laid to rest in a private location.
  • What can we learn from Teak’s illness?
    Valuable information learned about Teak’s heart condition will be shared with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Great Ape Heart Project (GAHP). The GAHP is a team of zoo veterinarians, human and veterinary cardiologists, sonographers, and pathologists that compile critical cardiac data on all four great ape species. The GAHP team offer advice and support for zoos when experiencing such conditions with one of their apes. You can read more at the Orangutan Species Survival Plan website.


image - archway entrance to the Islands exhibits, with park bench to sit on, moms pushing their strollers with kids in them, background is lots of tree, and bushes on a sunny summer day
The Islands Zone is home to the world’s first multi-species rotational exhibit, which simulates the way multiple species live in the wild. Animals from these islands have adapted through eons of isolation and are uniquely vulnerable to change. The exhibit highlights how man and nature must maintain a delicate balance for both to survive.

In addition to our three beloved orangutans, Amber, Segundo and Bella, Islands also features Sumatran tigers, siamangs, Malayan tapirs and babirusas. There are also two species of penguins (African and Little), assorted bird species, fruit bats, prehensile-tailed porcupines, as well as the highly endangered Cuban Crocodile.

Read more about Islands


photo of orangutan Amber
AMBER was born at the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota on October 15, 1987. She came to the Louisville Zoo in 1996. Amber is known for her playful personality. She enjoys interacting with guests and may tap the glass to grab the attention of those nearby, pointing out sparkling accessories, brightly colored fingernails, or gesturing towards a purse or backpack to see what’s inside.

SEGUNDO was born on November 12, 1987. He was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas where he lived before arriving at the Louisville Zoo on May, 19 1997. Segundo has very distinctive coat with the hair on his arms nearly reaching the ground when he stands.

BELLA was born at the San Diego Zoo on July 1, 1984 and she came to the Louisville Zoo from the Calgary Zoo in Canada on December 19, 1997. Bella is the larger of our female orangutans and has a slightly wider face.

Read More


Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil and is used in many of the foods and products you likely buy; it is the most widely consumed vegetable oil in the world, created from the fruit of oil palm trees native to the rainforests of Africa as well as Central and South America.

Unfortunately, not all farming of these trees is environmentally friendly — and the unsustainable palm oil industry is responsible for wide-scale deforestation to make way for oil palm plantations. These plantations are often created through “slash and burn” methods of deforestation which causes air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution and erosion, as well as contributing to climate change.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, 90% of palm oil trees are grown in Malaysia and Indonesia. The exact scale of palm oil deforestation in these countries is unknown, but the impact is so large it is noticeable from space. These forests are also some of the most biodiverse on Earth, home to many critically endangered species such as rhinos, orangutans, tigers, and so many more incredible and precious species. The continued destruction of this habitat is pushing many species to the brink of extinction; if we do not act right now we could lose these incredible animals forever.

Read more and learn how YOU can make a difference!