Special Sunday for Madju and mates
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.
Big birthday: Madju the orang-utan will celebrate his third birthday on Sunday.