January 15th: Orangutans Return to the Zoo, Six Orangutans make their way to a New Home
Gorillas are not the only Great Apes in our midst. On Tuesday, January 15th a family group of six orangutans arrived at the Gulf Breeze Zoo. The Zoo has been working in conjunction with the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Connecticut to bring orangutans back to the Zoo.
“This is an incredible homecoming for us, as two of the orangutans were here 10 years ago” said CEO, Eric Mogensen. “Sara gave birth to her daughter, Indah, at Gulf Breeze Zoo in 2005 before they were relocated to LEO. In Connecticut they were grouped with other orangutans and did well. With a change of plans at LEO we were able to procure this larger group of orangutans for the Zoo. The group we have here now consists of 4 females, one adult male and a young 4-year-old male baby still with his mother.”
The Gulf Breeze Zoo was selected as the new home for the orangutans based on the facility’s high standards, dedication to conservation, and large natural ape habitats. The specially designed island habitat is over 43,000 square feet, providing one of the largest orangutan habitats in the United States. The island provides a lush environment including mature trees and climbing structures. Coupled with the warm temperatures and humidity, Florida provides an ideal environment that mimics their wild home, Southeast Asia.
“With less than 300 individuals in zoological parks in North America, it’s an honor to work with these iconic species,” said Conservation Coordinator, Katy Massey. “But our goal is bigger than six individuals, we want to help save the entire species.” Orangutan populations have declined by as much as 97% in the past century. Indonesia has the highest deforestation rate in the world, which means fewer and fewer homes for these incredible species. As the Gulf Breeze Zoo continues to develop conservation efforts around the globe, they will not only be providing financial aid to programs in the field, but also developing stateside programs to raise awareness of the palm oil crisis. While the orangutans are the centerpiece of this campaign, conservation programs will benefit other species they share the jungle with, such as siamangs, gibbons, clouded leopards, tapirs, rhinos, and elephants.