Spe­cial Sun­day for Madju and mates

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Janie Smith

Vis­it­ing the Auck­land Zoo next week will help save the world’s most en­dan­gered pri­mates.

The zoo’s Orang-Utan Car­ing Week starts on Sun­day to raise aware­ness of the species’ plight.

Sun­day is also orangutan Madju’s third birth­day and the pub­lic will be able to watch him open­ing presents.

The zoo has nine orang­utans, eight from Bor­neo and one cross­bred from Bornean and Su­ma­tran par­ents.

“They have be­come quite a fea­ture,” says con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Peter Fraser.

“We have a fan­tas­tic pri­mate team who are pas­sion­ate about the an­i­mals and con­ser­va­tion.”

Bor­neo and Su­ma­tra are the only re­main­ing places where orang-utans ex­ist in the wild and their habi­tats are be­ing de­stroyed by de­for­esta­tion.

The orang-utans in­spire peo­ple to con­nect with an­i­mals and wildlife and re­alise they are worth sav­ing, Mr Fraser says.

“They are one of the crea­tures suf­fer­ing so badly with how we are us­ing the land and forests.”

Orang-utans are the slow­est breed­ing mam­mals on the planet, with about eight to nine years be­tween births.

Like hu­mans, they have sin­gle births and care for their young for the years be­tween births.

Mr Fraser says lit­tle of their be­hav­iour is in­stinc­tive so a mother has to teach her off­spring things like how to climb and how to find food and shel­ter. If their habi­tat is dis­turbed, they will stop breed­ing.

The world­wide pop­u­lar­ity of palm oil is caus­ing prob­lems for the apes, with plan­ta­tion own­ers in their na­tive coun­tries cut­ting down for­est to ex­pand their crops.

“If they cut down for­est first, they get the value of the tim­ber which funds the process,” says Mr Fraser.

If de­for­esta­tion con­tin­ues at its cur­rent rate, the orang- utans’ habi­tat will be de­stroyed in 10 years, he says.

Peo­ple can learn more about the en­dan­gered pri­mates at the zoo’s daily orang-utan en­counter, which will be held at 12.30pm un­til Novem­ber 14.

Madju’s birth­day cel­e­bra­tions, on Sun­day from 10am to 2pm, in­clude the op­por­tu­nity to sign his card, face paint­ing for a gold coin do­na­tion and cake and juice for the pub­lic.

Vis­it­ing the zoo dur­ing Orang-Utan Car­ing Week will also put peo­ple in the draw to win a be­hind-the-scenes en­counter with the res­i­dent pri­mates.

For more in­for­ma­tion call the Auck­land Zoo on 360-3805 or visit www.auck­land­zoo. co.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Big birth­day: Madju the orang-utan will cel­e­brate his third birth­day on Sun­day.

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