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Disappearing, But Not Gone

ABQ BioPark Zoo's Orangutan Awareness Day set for Saturday as fires threaten primate's wild habitat

11/12/2015 - The ABQ BioPark Zoo's Orangutan Awareness Day couldn't be timelier bushfires are devastating Sumatra and Borneo, homeland of the iconic and endangered orangutan.

The zoo is home to six Sumatran orangutans, including 2 1/2 year old Pixel, and is part of an international Species Survival Plan to help conserve this imperiled great ape.

Guests can learn more about the zoo's orangutans and what they can do to help save these primates from extinction during Orangutan Awareness Day. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, November 14, at the orangutan habitat.

"Because Sumatran orangutans are one of only two species of orangutan in the wild and are critically endangered, it's extremely important that we do all we can do conserve this intelligent, majestic great ape," said Jo Pelhan, BioPark Education Specialist. "At this event, visitors can learn about what the zoo is doing and what they can do in their personal lives to help protect wild orangutans."

Guests can interact with educators at discovery stations, participate in a keeper chat at 1:15 p.m., and even create and help distribute enrichment items for the orangutans and the zoo's other great apes. The enrichment toss will start at 1 p.m. and will occur throughout the Ape Walk.

Only two species of orangutan remain in the world today; the Sumatran orangutan is critically endangered while the Bornean orangutan is listed as endangered. These animals face many threats in the wild, including habitat loss and poaching. Widespread bushfires in Borneo and Sumatra are currently exacerbating habitat loss - in fact, one-third of  the world's orangutans are at risk from the fires, according to Marie Gale of the Save Indonesian Endangered Species Fund.

The event is part of a larger awareness campaign the zoo joins institutions across the world to celebrate Orangutan Caring Week.