The other day I posted that Duchess, the Phoenix Zoo's orangutan matriarch, had been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer.

I've just read that they euthanized her this morning. It's a relief to hear that she didn't suffer.

[Phoenix Zoo spokeswoman Linda] Hardwich said the decision to euthanize the orangutan matriarch was to give her some peace and preserve her dignity in her final days.

Duchess has been at the zoo since 1962. She was the oldest living Bornean orangutan in North America.

Duchess was born in the Borneo jungle where she was orphaned at about the age of two. She had seven offspring, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild who live at various zoos around the country. A daughter, Bess, and granddaughter, Kasih, lived with her.

Duchess' 50th birthday in 2010 was marked by presents, an ice "cake" to lick, a card signed by zoo guests and a chorus of "Happy Birthday" sung by zoo visitors.

I haven't been out to the zoo in a year or two, and the last time I was there the orangutan habitat was closed down for renovations. So I haven't seen Duchess in years. But she's been there since before my mother was born and I'll miss her.