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11 April 2013

Keeper Kristy Williams was keen to speak about the youngest Sumatran Orang-utan, Dewi, for this month’s animal profile.

‘We share the same birthday: December 6th. Now that she’s two years old, we see her becoming a tad more independent and developing her fine motor skills, just like a human toddler. She used to take frequent short naps, but now I don’t see her napping during the day.

‘She’s recently discovered her tongue and likes to poke it out at us! She’s also now more aware of her lips, which will get stronger and stronger as she grows: they can use their lips as tools.

‘Dewi is starting to interact more with Keepers now, and initiating play. For example, in the mornings she will dangle some of her sheet down through the race passageway as we walk below – she wants us to play tug-of-war with her.

‘Dewi weighs about 12kg now, so there’s a long way to go before she’s fully grown – her mother Maimunah recently weighed in at 48kg.’

Kristy says that Dewi has a good appetite, and loves fruit, especially strawberries.

‘She’s starting to drink from a cup quite well.  We haven’t started to formally train her yet, but as she was grabbing at Maimunah’s cup we decided to give her one. This will be a good option to have if at some time we potentially need to medicate her.

‘On the hot days this summer, we gave her cups of a water/juice mixture to help keep her hydrated.’

Kristy says it’s great arriving at work every morning knowing Dewi will be up waiting for the Keepers to walk in the door to the night dens. 

‘Orang-utans are much less vocal than gorillas, so they don’t pleasure grumble to say hello like the gorillas, but they do seem to be looking forward to seeing us‘