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Orangutan, 14, ripped off zoo volunteer’s THUMB then bit into her arm

Bajik the orangutan, 14, ripped off THUMB and bit into arm of volunteer he’d known since birth but officials say he wasn’t being aggressive toward her and he’s not a risk to the public

  • Bajik, a 14-year-old orangutan at Toledo Zoo in Ohio, bit off a volunteer’s thumb
  • The incident occurred on Saturday while the orangutans were being fed
  • Bajik reached through a gap with his fingers pulled the woman by the hand and then wrapped his teeth around her arm to pull her closer 
  • The worker was treated at hospital but injuries were not life-threatening 
  • The victim has worked at the zoo for 18 years and has known Bajik since birth 
  • Zoo said it’s behavior staff must watch for and Bajik isn’t at risk of euthanization

An orangutan took a hearty bite where he shouldn’t have during feeding time at Toledo Zoo in Ohio on Saturday but officials say the animal likely didn’t intend to harm a woman who ended up losing a finger in the process.

Visitors were not around at the time because the exhibit was closed but the zoo said the 14-year-old male was able to sneak his fingers through a gap between steel bars in the incident that lasted a few seconds.

Bajik, who was born at the zoo, is believed to have been trying to pull the volunteer closer when he ‘reached through the mesh enclosure and made contact with the unpaid staff member’s hand,’ vice president and chief of staff, Shayla Bell Moriarty told The Blade.

Bajik, a 14-year-old orangutan at Toledo Zoo in Ohio, bit off a volunteer’s thumb on Saturday at feeding time

He reached through a gap with his fingers pulled the woman by the hand and then wrapped his teeth around her arm

Regarding the biting, the zoo said orangutans sometimes use their mouths in a way humans use their hands. 

However there are no video cameras in that part of the zoo so they were not able to refer to footage to see exactly what happened for their ongoing investigation.

The victim – who has worked at the zoo for 18 years and has known Bajik since birth – did not suffer life-threatening injuries but was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

The zoo said it’s behavior that staff must watch for and Bajik isn’t at risk of euthanization

She was treated at a hospital nearby the zoo (pictured) but injuries were not life-threatening

Toledo Zoo’s associate curator of mammals said the victim and other staff are aware that while the orangutans can’t get their hands through the enclosure, they’re always trying to grab things with their fingers.

Using the example of how strong the animals can be, Suzanne Husband told The Blade how Bajik’s father Boomer once folded a 25 cent coin in half with just his thumb and forefinger. 

Husband added the orangutans have to spread out during feeding due to Bajik’s big appetite.


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The victim has worked at the zoo for 18 years and has known Bajik since birth

‘Any of the high-calorie foods are always done individually because if we scattered it, [Bajik] would eat every [piece] in the exhibit,’ she admitted. 

While the zoo is reviewing its safety protocol, but noted they do so regularly ‘whether there is an incident or not’, they insisted nothing will change for Bajik and that there’s no threat to the public.

He is not at risk of being euthanized and his status for potentially being recommendations for breeding will not be affected.

‘It’s not the animal’s fault in any way,’ curator of mammals, Michael Frushour, said. ‘Nothing should change for him. … They are a dangerous animal and intelligent. That we’ve determined, there was nothing out of the ordinary with the way the session was going.’   

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