Erie Zoo Orangutan Joe Passes Away

Image by Rodney Michael Spencer.

ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Erie Zoo orangutan Joe passed away Saturday after an exam showed he was experiencing heart failure, the zoo announced Monday.

He start showing symptoms of lack of appetite, fatigue and behavioral changes beginning the weekend of March 5.

Zoo veterinary and animal care teams kept the orangutan family behind the scenes and started monitoring and treating his symptoms. Several routine diagnostic tests did not produce any answers.

Joe was sedated Thursday evening and underwent a comprehensive examination including advanced imaging, a cardiovascular exam and physical. Preliminary results showed Joe was experiencing heart failure, according to the zoo.

He soon started on medication to manage his condition but began showing signs of lethargy and labored breathing Saturday and died later that day. Additional results are pending and will be released at a later date.

“This is a truly sad day for the Erie Community and we are all heartbroken over the loss of Joe,” said Roo Kojancie, COO of the Erie Zoo, in a statement. “Joe has been a beloved member of the Erie Zoo family since 2002. He has touched the hearts of so many visitors, volunteers, and staff over the years. His absence is going to leave a hole in our hearts. I’m proud of our exceptional veterinary and animal care teams who dedicated themselves to leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of Joe’s health.”

Joe was a Bornean orangutan, which is a critically endangered species. Information from his diagnostic examinations will be shared with AZA’s Orangutan Species Survival Plan and the Great Ape Heart Project to study heart disease in great apes.

He was 36.


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