I decided to add a new weekly feature to my blog called Zoosday Tuesday. This feature has absolutely nothing to do with writing. But since my love of animals was first inspired by my volunteer work at the zoo and in turn inspired my writing, I decided to share some of the wonderful things I've learned about animals as a volunteer docent at the Kansas City Zoo.
***The opinions shared on this blog are mine alone, and are not endorsed by the Kanas City Zoo.
This is one of my all time favorite animals. Not only are the intelligent and gentle, they are some of our closest relatives. They are part of the Hominidae family which includes great apes and yes, us, humans. The way to tell an ape from a monkey is that apes don't have tails. There are four great apes: Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Bonobo, and of course Orangutan.
Orangutans are the only great apes found in Asia. They are only found on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra and are divided into two su\b-classes named for the islands they originate from. They are the only completely arboreal ape, they spend their lives high in the trees, rarely coming down to the ground. They eat fruits, leaves, insects, and must travel miles through the trees to find the ripest fruits.
Female orangutans devote seven years to raising a single infant. This makes their reproductive rate extremely slow, which is one of the things that have led to their endangered status. But it's not the only thing.
Currently there are fewer than 6000 Sumatran Orangutan's in the wild and fewer than 50,000 Bornean Orangutan's in the wild.
The greatest threat to wild orangutans is the palm oil trade. Palm oil is used in many of the food we eat, and the makeup and lotions we use. Unfortunately if it't not grown in a sustainable manner, orangutans will continue to die, and could be extinct in the wild in the next twenty years. This is a good article about orangutans and palm oil. http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_forests/deforestation/forest_conversion_agriculture/orang_utans_palm_oil/
We have six amazing orangutans at the Kansas City zoo. They are incredibly intelligent and throughtful creatures. Next week, I'll tell you the very special story of our youngest Bornean Orangutan, Kali Jon.