Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zoosday Tuesday


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.


  1. I can watch countless nature documentaries about orangutans - all of them very depressing because they seem to be losing the battle as palm oil plantations spring up left right and centre!! They are so intelligent and just amazing. I hope they continue to exist in their natural habitat for generations to come. The conservation word done in zoos are about their last bastion of saving this species! Take care

  2. So sad to think what man inflicts on these beautiful animals. We adopt one every year for a friend of ours.

  3. Oh, man, I hope you are also writing up some of these animal stories for a couple of the kids' magazines esp. the one obout Kali Jon. They'd love stuff like this ... think NGKids, Hopscotch group, even Pockets (for their summer theme issue) ...

  4. Ok, I'm going to start looking at the things I buy and try not to buy stuff with palm oil in it.

    Thanks for this post. I love this series.