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