Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tonda Dies at 50
Tonda and T.K. (Courtesy NWF Daily News)
An unusual relationship ended on March 23. Tonda the orangutan, long time resident of Zoo World in Panama City Beach, Florida, died at the age of 50. She left behind her best buddy, T.K. (Tonda's Kitty).
Several years ago, Tonda became seriously depressed after losing her mate. In an effort to improve her psychological welfare, her caretakers decided to introduce her to a stray kitten. A love affair was born. Tonda and T.K. quickly bonded, with Tonda taking on the role of surrogate mother. Their pairing became famous and was even featured on Animal Planet's Top 7 Best Animal Couples.
It is reported that T.K. deeply feels the loss of her friend. However, she'll remain at the zoo comforted by plenty of extra TLC from her human caretakers and zoo visitors.
Zoos often struggle with the issue of providing stimulation to residents that cannot roam freely as they would do in the wild. Innovative ways to improve the animal's quality of life are critical. The pairing of Tonda and T.K. is an example of a successful solution.