With the planning by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Sumatran Orangutan Species Survival Plan® (SSP), Makan may have found his future mate in Indah. Indah will be arriving in late spring and, after successfully completing quarantine in the Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital, she will be moved to our Orangutan facility. There, keepers will be observing how well all three orangutans (Makan, Indah, and Cheli) are doing in close proximity to one another and how best to make the physical introduction. The hope is that Makan and Indah, in their own time, will take an extra special liking to each other.
Sumatran Orangutans are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are native to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. These arboreal apes require tall and mature forests and therefore are especially vulnerable to loss of habitat from ever expanding palm oil plantations and deforestation. In addition, poaching for the illegal bushmeat trade and taking for the illegal pet trade make their existence even more difficult. Current estimates indicate that there are only around 14, 000 Sumatran Orangutans left in the wild. In addition to the wild populations, two entirely new Sumatran Orangutan populations are gradually being established via the reintroduction of confiscated illegal pets; one in and around the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park (Jambi and Riau provinces) and one in and around the Jantho Pine Forest Nature Reserve, in the far north of Aceh. To date, more than 260 individuals have been reintroduced. The goal of these efforts is to eventually establish new, genetically-viable, fully-reproducing and self-sustaining wild populations as a safety net against catastrophe elsewhere in the species’ range.
The Sacramento Zoo participates in the AZA Sumatran Orangutan Species Survival Plan® (SSP). An SSP is the responsible for the planned management of a specific species in human care. SSP’s cooperatively manage specific populations across multiple zoos and aquariums with the goal of sustaining a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied species well into the future. An important facet of the program is the breeding of animals in a responsible and planned manner. Even if an animal is not reproducing, they are still helping the SSP Program in an important way.
This is the first of a four-part blog series. Stay tuned for more information about how Indah is preparing for her upcoming move, follow Indah during her move from one zoo to another, and learn how Indah will be introduced to Cheli and Makan.