The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is home to three Sumatran Orangutans. The zoo is extra cautious with new visitors, making everyone wear masks and do a quick shoe bath to keep the orangutans safe from viruses and even tuberculosis. According to Zookeeper Angie Selzer:
They’re so closely related to humans that they can catch anything we have. So they get flu vaccines in the winter.They just present their shoulder and we can give them a shot, just like you do when you go to the doctor.
The orangutans leave their exhibit and come inside a holding area every night. They are usually separated so they have some time on their own to eat the rest of their food and sleep in their little nests that they make every night. Each day, the orangutans are given leafy greens, veggies, bamboo, and some fruit. One of their favorite kinds of enrichment is dried bamboo with peanut butter inside.
These guys are on a special diet and we really try to keep track of how much food they get so they don’t get overweight or they don’t get underweight. That’s one of the reasons why we weigh them everyday – so we can keep track of that. So, they are actually only allowed to get 42.4g of peanut butter today between all three of them.
Tengku, the 28-year-old male orangutan, and the two females, Tara and Melati are no dummies. They don’t eat the dried bamboo, they go straight for the good stuff. They even use their fingers to scrape the peanut butter out.
Sitting behind a cage is about the closest the zookeepers get to the orangutans – for safety! These orangutans are very strong. Tengku may only stand about 4ft tall, but he weighs in at around 240 lbs, with most of his beautiful orange hair covering up the muscles he uses to swing around in the trees.
When you come to see the orangutans in the Indonesian Rainforest, you’ll notice that most of them stay in the trees all day long. They don’t even leave the trees for water – they can get a lot of the water they need from some of the bamboo leaves and other leaves they find in the trees.
These Sumatran Orangutans are also endangered, with less than 7,000 left in the wild – mainly due to habitat destruction.
Their moms spend a lot of time and energy raising them and teaching them what they need to know. So, these guys don’t actually go off on their own until their about 8 or 9 – especially the females. So, it also means that they’re not having infants every year – they’re having them every 8 or 9 years. That’s one of the reasons why they are so endangered, because they’re not having them as often.
You can swing by the Indonesian Rainforest to check out these beautiful apes this summer.