News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
February 13, 2023
NOTE: Scroll to end of press release to download photos.
Brookfield Zoo Mourns Loss of 44-year-old Bornean Orangutan

Brookfield, Ill. — Yesterday, February 12, was a difficult day for Chicago Zoological Society staff. Ben, a 44-year-old Bornean orangutan at Brookfield Zoo, was humanely euthanized with his animal care staff by his side.

Ben, who was the second oldest Bornean orangutan in the accredited North American zoo population, had a full life thanks to the dedicated veterinary and animal care staff who provided him with excellent care since he arrived at the Zoo in 1992 on a breeding recommendation. He and his mate, Sophia, produced four offspring, two of them—Kekasih and Heidi—still live at the Zoo’s Tropic World: Asia habitat. His legacy also lives on in his four grandchildren and one great grandchild.

In 2018, Ben made a remarkable recovery following emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix, and had a long history of heart disease that was being managed very well with medication for over a decade. Also, for the past several years, Ben was being treated for severe arthritis and spinal degeneration. While the medication initially alleviated his symptoms, this past week, his condition severely deteriorated making surgery not an option. This past weekend with veterinary staff no longer able to keep Ben comfortable from pain, animal health and animal care teams made the very difficult decision to move forward with euthanasia.

“Ben was such a gentle ape and an incredible father. He could often be seen interacting and playing with his offspring,” said Tim Snyder, vice president of animal care. “Additionally, he had a very trusting relationship with his animal care specialists, and voluntarily participated in training sessions and his own health care. He will be greatly missed by the staff and the millions of guests who visited him.”


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Photos of Ben (credit Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo)

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people to wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The Zoo is also accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, and the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association. Brookfield Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit



Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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