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Orangutan Update

Pixel is growing up, the entire group is learning new skills.

Sept. 2, 2020 -  The ABQ BioPark Zoo is home to four Sumatran orangutans: Sarah, Rubi, Pixel and Tonka.

Pixel, the youngest, just turned 7 years old this April and is getting his adult teeth in! Although Pixel is growing up, he still catches a lift on mom’s back when coming in and out of the building. After humans, orangutans have the longest ‘childhood’ of any mammal.

Pixel Orangutan Legos, 2018

Training Time!

Orangutan keepers are currently training the group in their outdoor habitat. Some of the new behaviors the orangutans are learning include stationing at specific locations in the exhibit, sitting, standing, opening their mouths, and positioning their bodies in different ways so that their animal care staff can look for lumps, bumps and scrapes. All of these behaviors are trained voluntarily using positive reinforcement like treats and encourage the orangutans to participate in their own care. For instance, an orangutan holds its mouth open for the keepers to brush its teeth. Zookeepers always interact with all of our great apes through heavy-duty mesh to ensure human and animal safety.

Animal care staff says that each individual orangutan is at a different level in their training. “We all have lots of fun learning,” says Debbie Wiese, zookeeper supervisor for primates.

Fun Ways to Cool Off 

During July’s heat wave, the orangutans got some special treats to cool down: ice treats, frozen sheets, mister fans and indoor access during the day. 

Orangutan Conservation

All three species of orangutan—Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli—are either endangered or critically endangered. Orangutans are native to Indonesian rainforests, but logging and agriculture to accommodate palm oil plantations are threatening their home and survival.

You can make small changes to help save orangutans:

  • Palm oil can be found in a variety of products we use everyday like cosmetics and food. The ABQ BioPark advocates supporting companies that source sustainable palm oil. Use the Palm Oil Shopping App, which can be downloaded here.
  • Support the New Mexico BioPark Society
  • Support conservation organizations like Orangutan Foundation International.