Twin orangutans set to celebrate 9th birthday

Peanut, Pumpkin to celebrate birthday at Jungle Island

MIAMI, Fla. - Jungle Island is getting ready for a big birthday celebration.

This weekend, the orangutan twins, Peanut and Pumpkin, are turning 9.

After a recent cancer scare for Peanut, this event holds a special meaning for her caretakers.

In May, Linda Jacobs, Peanut's main caretaker, noticed something was wrong.

"We saw that Peanut's behavior was a little different," Jacobs said.  "You know, it's sort of like a parent with a child -- just something's off."

It turned out, Peanut had a small bowel obstruction. After surgery, the tissue was tested and it came back cancerous. Peanut had stage one intestinal b-cell lymphoma.

Jungle Island consulted with a team of both animal and human pathologists and oncologists before deciding on chemotherapy. Now after three treatments, Peanut has been given the all clear.

"She's the first orangutan to have infused chemotherapy and we didn't really know what all to expect," Jacobs said. "But she has come through it like a champion."

Jungle Island's general curator and staff veterinarian, Dr. Jason Chatfield, says now other zoos have a resource when dealing with similar issues.

"We are not trying to blaze a path for everybody," he said. "We basically made the decision just based on Peanut. So if anyone else happens to be in this unfortunate circumstance, and they caught the cancer really early, they can call and ask us and see what we did."

Caretakers say Peanut is making amazing progress and they are thrilled with the outcome so far.

"It's just absolute joy to see her playing and active and have sparkle in her eyes and just be so happy. It's just such a relief to us," said Jacobs.

The birthday celebration runs all day on Sunday, and Jungle Island is running a special. Kids ages 3 - 10 will get in for just $5 with a full paying adult admission.

All the money from the kids' admission will be donated to the UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. The center and its team of physicians were just one of many involved in helping in Peanut's recovery.

You can find more information on Jungle Island's website.

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