COLCHESTER Zoo has paid tribute to one of its best-loved residents on what would have been his 51st birthday.

Rajang the orangutan had to be put to sleep late last year following a period of worsening health.

He had spent more 35 years at the Maldon Road attraction, becoming a particular favourite of both visitors and keepers alike.

On Friday, the zoo posted a message about the great ape on its social media channels.

It stated: "Today we are reminded of our dear friend Rajang as he would have celebrated his 51st birthday.

"Plans are well underway to create a garden by the All Saints Church which will be dedicated to Rajang and all the fond memories we have of him. #Remembering #Birthday #OneOfAKind."

In the latter stages of his long and happy life, the orangutan became a star of social media, with videos of him kissing visitors' baby bumps going viral online.

The zoo is set to rename the Orangutan Forest attraction to include his name.