It may seem odd, to somebody from out of town, for me to say that the news that Duchess the orangutan has cancer hit me like a punch in the gut.

It may seem odder still that that was the top story this morning on

But for those of us who grew up here, Duchess is like a neighbor and an old friend. She's been at the Phoenix Zoo since 1962 -- and for a bit of comparison, my mom was born in 1963.

We lost Hazel the gorilla some years back (cancer as well), and Ruby the painting elephant not long after (complications giving birth). I suppose that, by contrast, Duchess has lived a long life. But still, it sucks.