Sam the Orangutan
Sammy first lived at a Miami tourist attraction owned by an orangutan breeder. When he was only 18 months old, he was sold (along with infant Geri) to a Los Angeles trainer who worked chimpanzees in Hollywood. Sammy and Geri grew up together in the entertainment world working in many commercials and TV shows (such as Baywatch). They also starred in several movies (The Flintstones, Planet of the Apes, and Sammy's most famous movie, Dunston Checks In where Sammy played the part of Dunston). When Sammy became too strong and dangerous to work, he was retired to a small cage at the trainer's compound where he became a breeder. Sammy and Geri produced one infant - Jam who was hand raised by the trainers.
Then, in December 2004, both Sammy and Geri were sent to the Center for Great Apes, one of the only nonprofit sanctuaries in North America dedicated to the rescue and permanent care of orangutans. Their son Jam arrived at the sanctuary four months later.
Sammy was very attached to his life-long companion, Geri. While Geri has been reintroduced to her offspring, Jam, Sammy was aggressive to Jam during "howdy" sessions, and was likely jealous of Geri's attention to the youngster. So, Geri spent her time between Sammy and Jam.
Sam did have an odd quirk. He passionately disliked bare feet and would chase anyone away from his enclosure (even spit at them) if they were wearing sandals or flip-flops.
Sadly, Sammy passed away in December 2010. He was found very early in the morning, still in his night nest, and appeared to have passed away peacefully in his sleep. His passing came as a shock to all the Center staff and a necropsy showed that he died of heart failure (fibrosing cardiomypathy), a serious problem for adult male great apes (gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees, & orangutans).