Monday, June 19, 2006

Singapore's most famous ape celebrates 46th birthday

singapore apeSingapore's furriest celebrity turned 46 Sunday, to raucous cheers from her fans and a delicious "cake" made of tropical fruits.

At 46, Ah Meng is the Singapore zoo's most famous poster girl. The primate, whose wrinkled face has also sold Singapore worldwide in tourism ads, has shaken hands and clinked glasses with foreign dignitaries and celebrities from Britain's Prince Philip to pop star Michael Jackson.

In 1992, she received the "Special Tourism Ambassador" award from the Singapore Tourism Board.

Ah Meng is also the oldest orangutan living in captivity, but her appearances are now rare because zookeepers are refraining from giving their most prized exhibit too much pressure, said her keeper, Alagappsamy Chellaiyah.

But on Sunday, people waited in long lines to have their photos taken with the hulking creature, who seemed more interested in ravaging her "cake" of tropical Southeast Asian fruits _ including rambutans, durians and mangosteens.

While age has not eroded the ape's popularity, it has slowed her down. An orangutan has a life expectancy of 50 years.

"Her movements are now slower, especially when climbing up the branches," Chellaiyah said.


Story here.

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