split image of Bella the orangutan eating cake

Bella, the world’s oldest living orangutan in captivity, celebrated her 63rd birthday this week.

Estimated to have been born in 1961, Bella the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) was collected from the wild in 1964 and has lived at Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany, ever since.

Zoo staff said that Bella “is in the best condition”.

She was given a birthday cake made of soft-boiled rice and various fruits, which she shared with Berani, one of her adopted children.

Bella eating birthday cake

The typical lifespan of a wild orangutan is 35-40 years, increasing to around 50 years in captivity.

Bella became the oldest living orangutan in 2021, following the death of Inji, a female Sumatran orangutan at Oregon Zoo, USA. Born in the wild c. 1960, Inji was thought to have been a year older than Bella.

Bella has been described by her zookeepers as honest, prudent, curious, intelligent, loving and never aggressive.

Bella in 2015

Over the course of her life, she’s given birth to six children of her own and raised four adopted children who were not accepted by their mothers, earning her the nickname “supermom”.

Now that she has very few teeth remaining, Bella's favourite food is semolina porridge flavoured with savoury Maggi sauce or a sweetener such as honey. She also enjoys soft fruit and vegetables.

Bella in 2021

Bella is not the only old ape living in Germany to have celebrated a birthday recently; the world’s oldest living gorilla in captivity, Fatou, turned 67 years old on 13 April. 

Fatou was captured in the wild in 1959 and brought to France by a sailor, who used her as payment to settle his tab at a tavern. Fatou was purchased within the same year by Berlin Zoo, where she’s lived ever since.

Nowadays, capturing wild animals for zoos is no longer considered acceptable by the zoological community. The vast majority of animals are now born within captivity or transferred between facilities for breeding programmes.

If you love watching records being broken you should check out our Records Weekly series on YouTube...

Want more? Follow us on Google News and across our social media channels to stay up-to-date with all things Guinness World Records! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, ThreadsTikTok, LinkedIn, and Snapchat Discover.

Don't forget to check out our videos on YouTube and become part of our group chat by following the Guinness World Records WhatsApp channel.

Still not had enough? Click here to buy our latest book, filled to the brim with stories about our amazing record breakers.