International Orangutan Day

Written By: Katherine Burton


Happy International Orangutan Day!  

Zoo Tampa is home to eight Bornean Orangutans who inspire staff, volunteers, and guests every day. You can easily spot these red-haired, great apes in the primate section of the zoo and learn more about them at our daily keeper chats.  

Let me introduce you to our Orangutan family.  

First up is Goyang. At 20 years old, he is the only adult male in the group. You can easily identify him by his large body size (315 lbs!), long hair, cheek pads, and throat sac. These characteristics are specific to males, making him stand out.  

Next up we have DeeDee, RanDee, and Dira. DeeDee is the oldest member of our group at 39 years old. She is mother to 11-year-old RanDee and 20-month-old Dira. At 11 years old, RanDee is in the adolescent stage of her life. She is learning how to be a mom through observation, and she spends much of her time playing with the younger members of the group. Dira is the youngest member of our group and spends most of her time holding on to mom or practicing her climbing skills while mom watches nearby.  

And finally, we have Josie, Hadiah, Gojo, and Topi. Josie is 34 years old and is both a mother and grandmother. Josie is mother to 13-year-old Hadiah and 3-year-old Gojo. And Hadiah is a first-time mother to 3-year-old Topi. Both moms have their own parenting styles and their kids spend much of their time playing with each other and interacting with other members of the group. 

Each individual has a unique personality, and all are wonderful ambassadors for their species. Today, we celebrate all three species of Orangutans (Bornean, Sumatran, and Tapanuli) and hope to encourage everyone to take action to protect the world’s largest tree dwelling mammal.  

Found in the forests of Indonesia and Malaysia, all species of Orangutans have suffered from decreasing populations resulting in a critically endangered classification. This is largely due to deforestation by the palm oil industry. Palm oil is a vegetable oil that can be found across a wide range of products such as food, cosmetics, household goods, and more. When it is grown unsustainably, new areas of forest are cut and burned, destroying the Orangutan’s habitat. However, sustainable palm oil is grown by re-using the same land for production.  

As consumers, we hold the power for change! Supporting sustainable palm oil will encourage more companies to make the change to sustainable production. You can download the Sustainable Palm Oil app on your smart phone and scan items while you shop. This will show you which products use sustainable palm oil, allowing you to make informed decisions while you shop.  

Together, we can ensure the survival of this species and that is what International Orangutan Day is all about!