Madju cel­e­brates fourth birth­day

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

A small rope-swing­ing orangutan with a large per­son­al­ity will cel­e­brate his fourth birth­day to­mor­row and help to kick off Auck­land Zoo’s Orangutan Car­ing Week.

Madju, one of the zoo’s six Bornean orang­utans, has built up a rep­u­ta­tion as a cheeky at­ten­tion­seeker.

Pri­mates team leader Amy Dixon says he al­ways pulls stunts like rolling down grassy hills.

“He is a big show-off, that’s him in a nut­shell.”

Par­ent orang­utans Char­lie and Melur will look on as the young­ster is given presents to cel­e­brate his birth­day.

“Like all tod­dlers he likes the wrap­ping pa­per and the box more than what’s in it. He loves shred­ding the pa­per,” says Ms Dixon.

She says zoo vol­un­teers have col­lected soft toys for him and staff will have a cake made out of boxes that he can play­fully de­stroy and an­other cake made from diet jelly and cov­ered in ed­i­ble flow­ers.

Madju is still feed­ing off his mum but also en­joys a diet of fruit and veg­eta­bles.

“They like sweet and juicy stuff,” says Ms Dixon, but zoo staff keep their nu­tri­tional bal­ance in check.

She hopes Madju will be weaned off his mother in about six to 12 months.

“He’s re­ally in­de­pen­dent now. At three he was very clingy but in the last year he has formed his own per­son­al­ity.”

To­mor­row will also mark the start of the zoo’s Don’t Palm Us Off cam­paign. It is ask­ing Food Stan­dards Aus­tralia New Zealand to en­sure palm oil is la­belled on all food prod­ucts.

Zoo con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Peter Fraser says the world is faced with the alarm­ing re­al­ity that orang­utans could be ex­tinct in the wild within 12 years.

“Un­for­tu­nately, as we cel­e­brate Madju’s life, the lives of up to 50 orang­utans a week are be­ing lost in Bor­neo and Su­ma­tra.

“This is pri­mar­ily be­cause of the de­struc­tion of their rain­for­est habi­tat for oil palm plan­ta­tions and il­le­gal log­ging.”

He says palm oil is now in 10 per­cent of su­per­mar­ket prod­ucts, but is of­ten not la­belled.

Mr Fraser says shop­pers should have the right to make an in­formed choice.

Madju’s cel­e­bra­tions will take place be­tween 10am and 3pm to­mor­row while Orangutan Car­ing Week runs un­til Novem­ber 14.

Party-go­ers can en­joy free face­paint­ing, check out orangutan­re­lated dis­plays, sign Madju’s birth­day al­bum, con­trib­ute to the zoo’s Don’t Palm Us Off mu­ral and sign post­cards to sup­port the cam­paign.

Su­ma­tran Orangutan Con­ser­va­tion Project di­rec­tor Ian Sin­gle­ton will also hold a talk at Unitec on Novem­ber 11 from 6.30pm to 9.15pm.

Go to www.auck­land­zoo.co.nz for de­tails of events or call 3603805.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Birth­day boy: Bornean orangutan Madju will be lav­ished with at­ten­tion to­mor­row dur­ing birth­day cel­e­bra­tions.

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