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Melbourne Zoo

World Orang-utan Day 2018

17 August 2018

Bring on the monkey business, as Melbourne Zoo’s six orang-utans prepare to celebrate World Orang-utan Day this Sunday 19 August.

Kiani, Santan, Maimunah, Dewi, Gabby, and Malu, will be treated to extra enrichment and activities throughout the day, while visitors can enjoy face painting, as well as life sized orang-utan puppets that will roam the main pathways.

While World Orang-utan Day is a chance to celebrate these beautiful apes, who share 97% of our DNA, it is also an important time to raise awareness the threats against them.

Classified as critically endangered, wild population numbers have dropped by close to 95% in the last 100 years, leaving fewer than 113,000 in the wild, with the Sumatran population, such as those found at Melbourne Zoo, down to around 7,500.

This loss is mainly due to destruction of their precious rainforest homes to logging and palm oil plantations. They are also hunted for the pet trade and for meat.

But you can help by becoming part of the international effort to ensure products containing palm oil are clearly labelled through the Don’t Palm Us Off campaign.

Zoos Victoria’s supporter base have sent more than 76,000 emails to the group of ministers charged with a decision on palm oil. They hope to hit a target of 80,000 before the end of August.

Our hope is that worldwide efforts to rein in destruction of orang-utan rainforest habitats will succeed with a little help from the community and our Governing bodies.

Breeding programs, such as that at Melbourne Zoo, are also helping to ensure that the species doesn’t disappear for good.

At Melbourne Zoo, primate keeper Tahlia Koe said that working with the zoo’s six orang-utans, was reason enough to keep up the fight for this great ape.

“They're intelligent, cheeky and inquisitive nature ensures we keepers were always entertained but also kept on our toes.

“But unfortunately due to the situation in their native homeland, many apes of the same age do not make it past this vital point,” said Ms Koe.

Ms Koe said that World Orang-utan Day was a very special day for the dedicated primate team, who work to help protect orang-utans out in the wild through not only their captive breeding work, but by also talking to visitors and educating them around sustainable palm oil consumption.

Pledge your support for mandatory labelling by contacting your local Minister through the Don’t Palm Us Off.

Because who could possibly imagine a future without these precious primates?