Zoo to host Orangutan Awareness Week Nov. 11-17

Keeper talks will address challenges faced by orangutans in the wild

The Oregon Zoo will mark Orangutan Awareness Week, Nov. 11-17, showcasing the highly endangered apes and their struggle to avoid extinction.

Daily keeper talks and feedings will take place at 1 p.m. at Red Ape Reserve, where Inji, a 52-year-old Sumatran orangutan, and her grandson Kutai, 18, share a home with the zoo's white-cheeked gibbons.

"Orangutans are at a really critical point right now in their native lands," said Asaba Mukobi, senior primate keeper at the zoo. "Habitat loss, palm oil plantations and an illegal pet trade have pushed them to the brink of extinction in Sumatra and Borneo."

The name "orangutan" comes from the Malay "orang," meaning man, and "hutan," meaning wilderness or jungle. According to Mukobi, many zoo visitors are struck by the orangutans' close resemblance to humans.

"Visitors feel a strong connection to Inji and Kutai," Mukobi said. "Building on that connection, we're trying to create awareness about what's happening to orangutans in the wild and let people know how they can help."

During their daily talks, keepers will distribute pocket-size shopping guides (while supplies last) that help consumers make orangutan-friendly choices at the supermarket.

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
 
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
 
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org
Ian Gillingham | 503-220-2448 | ian.gillingham@oregonzoo.org