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Bornean orangutan birthday, 11 April 2019

Bornean orangutan birthday, 11 April 2019
Gigit, 13 Apr 2019
TheGerenuk likes this.
    • Gigit
      A princess's castle, presents and icy cake awaiting 6 year old birthday girl, Tatty, and her mother, Mali.
    • Benosaurus
      I'm never sure quite what to think when zoos do this sort of thing for animal birthdays.

      It is definitely good enrichment, but does the above go too far and send out the wrong message to visitors hoping to learn about orangutans?

      Does it make them seem like pets rather than captive wild animals, or am I just being a grump?
    • Gigit
      Most of the people watching were regulars like me. Casual visitors tended to make a 'ooh look at him' comment and pass by, much as they do on a normal day. In my very jaundiced view, few of them are hoping to learn anything about any animal. The orangs watched this being set up from the other island and you could sense their anticipation. As apes, they knew something different was afoot and they loved it. They're never going to be anywhere other than a zoo so I think that this happening once a year does no harm at all.
    • Benosaurus
      I completely agree that the orangs would have found it hugely enriching to play with something different and get extra treats.

      Zoos should, and do, still try to educate casual visitors. For example, by putting up animal signage etc. despite most people barely glancing at them for more than a few seconds.

      I just find the whole concept of a pink princess castle, banner with love hearts, and tea party setup a little sickly/anthropomorphic; like it's for your pet or 6 y/o sister. However, that side of it was of course done for publicity reasons and the orangs couldn't care less about the concept. Lots of zoos do it, but I agree that if enrichment like this, although weird to me, is just on the odd occasion, then overall there is no harm in it at all.
    • Gigit
      Actually, on reflection, I think there is a lesson in doing this for apes and your comment about 'your 6 year old sister' is the key. People do recognise kinship with apes - 'look, there's granddad' - probably without thinking about it too deeply. A little orang playing with cardboard boxes in exactly the same way that a human child does reinforces the view that we are very alike. People might realise that they are not just 'monkeys'; they are intelligent, self-aware beings who deserve respect and every effort that is being made to keep them on this planet with us. And they might do something about it. Wishful thinking maybe.
      As an aside, I think it was probably enrichment for the keepers too :)
    • Benosaurus
      That's a very good point; there are definitely benefits.

      I think it's a difficult balance between showing likeness to garner respect and going OTT by showing unrealistic anthropomorphic circumstances.There's showing how similar a young orang is to a human child when it plays, and then there's showing an orang having a princess birthday party.

      I know I'm probably overthinking it, as this was basically just a bit of fun for the cameras, but I suppose it depends on how you look at it, i.e. me looking at it from the point of view of a grump :D
      Gigit likes this.
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    Paignton Zoo
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    13 Apr 2019
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