Animal WellnessVirginia Zoo Mourns a Significant Loss

November 18, 2019

The Zoo is deeply saddened to share that despite almost a full week of highly intensive 24-hour around the clock treatment and supportive care, young orangutan Sofie has passed away.

Veterinary and animal care staff had been providing critical life support and treatment since last Monday due to a severe infection that affected several critical body functions and that had resulted in serious secondary complications. Throughout the past week, the Zoo’s veterinarian consulted with veterinary colleagues at other zoos, local veterinary emergency experts, human pediatric intensive care doctors and other medical experts to try and pull Sofie through this serious infection. Sofie spent the last week being cared for similarly to how a human baby might be in a neonatal critical care unit– with intravenous lines providing medications and supplemental fluids, oxygen when needed, feeding tubes, supplemental heat, and constant monitoring of her critical body systems.

The Zoo’s veterinary and animal care staff provided Sofie with every viable option to try and help her recover, but unfortunately the infection ended up being too severe and ultimately a CT scan showed that her brain had irreparable massive swelling from the infection. Due to the fatal prognosis, the extremely difficult decision was made to do what was best for Sofie and help her pass pain-free through humane euthanasia. A necropsy was performed immediately after her passing, which confirmed multiple life-threatening issues throughout her body that she could not have recovered from, despite all of the support and treatment being given.

Sofie’s mother Dara and father Solaris, as well as the other orangutans, are continuing to handle all of this well. Dara was able to watch the entire process of Sofie’s treatment and care, right up until she passed away. The Asia Zoo Keepers will continue monitoring Dara and the rest of the orangutans after this significant loss.

The Zoo is very thankful for the heroic efforts given by our veterinary and animal care staff, as well as the help provided by colleagues at other zoos, local veterinary specialist Dr. Amanda Traub, and all of the human medical doctors that provided their significant expertise to Sofie’s diagnosis and treatment. The Zoo is also extremely appreciative for all of the support and understanding from our community. The kind messages have meant so much to the staff working so long and so hard in trying to help Sofie throughout this illness. Sofie touched the hearts of so many and countless others were inspired to care about orangutans and their conservation just by seeing her.

She will always be remembered by our Zoo family and will be deeply missed.