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Taronga Zoo Taronga Orangutans.

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Pertinax, 5 Feb 2007.

  1. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Can somebody- ZooPro perhaps- explain the current situation regarding Taronga's Orangutans.

    1. Have they recently(within the past few years) changed enclosures from the one I would have seen them in about eight years ago?

    2. I know there is a Sumatran male 'Kluet' who was born at Jersey Zoo but I think only hybrid or Bornean females. I guess the plan is to provide Kluet a purebred mate and perhaps phase out the others?

    Any update much appreciated.
     
  2. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    hey grant. taronga hasn't moved their orangutans into a new enclosure and i expect its probably quite a long way off. but building a new enclosure could solve their problems...

    there are no purebred bornean orangutans left in australia, just hybrids - and taronga zoo has 1.2 of them. certainly though, hybrids are no longer being bred in our region. as you said though - taronga also have a pure sumatran male but unfortunately taronga just doesn't have any more room for more of the apes. that means theres no place for a sumatran female until the zoo can offload its hybrids someplace else.

    originally (and luckily for them) they were to be transferred to mareeba.
    then the plan became australia zoo, but they haven't built an exhibit yet.

    auckland cant breed any more borneans either because they have run out of room. the animals are genetically well represented overseas also so there is no interest in aquiring them and they can't relocate them and shift to sumatrans.

    i think we might be in for a long wait before we get the whole region keeping purebred sumatrans...
     
  3. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Patrick- thanks for the update on the Orangutan situation. It sounds pretty much as if Taronga now have Kluet(the young Sumatran male from Jersey) but they won't be able to use him for breeding for a good few years yet.

    Breeding hybrid orangutans was a bad mistake made by zoos generally all around the world, and we're still living with the consequences as they use up valuable space instead of purebeds. In Europe many hybrid orangs have ended up being sent to the poorer zoos in Eastern Europe- this has always been a traditional 'dumping area' for unproductive animals in the wealthier zoos of western europe- of course its not much advertised....

    What is the situation with the Melbourne Orangs now? I recently saw a photo of the male Santan and his coat seems to have improved greatly, its now thick and long. Who's in the new exhibit- is it just Santan, Maimunda and their baby? Are there still any others at Melb.?
     
  4. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    melbournes new exhibit has 3 seperate enclosures so their is a good opportunities to keep animals seperate and manage them effectively. there is an extensive gallery of the photos i took of the exhibit that i uploaded in the gallery section. check it out. currently a siamang family, the 3 purebred sumatrans you mentioned and two hybrid sisters bred at the zoo many years ago share the exhibit, though the hybrid girls are usually togther in one exhibit, whilst santan is either on his own or sharing with his son and mate. he appears to be a gentle fellow and clearly has a bond with his family. i haven't noticed his coat of late to be honest, but it was a little sunbleached in the old exhibit. the simangs have not yet been integrated as far as i know. ARAZPA has asked that zoos consider facilities for holding more than one male and in this respect i think melbourne could have done with a fourth outdoor enclosure.

    maybe this will happen in the future?
     
  5. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    the siamangs havent been integrated yet??? they were in with the orangs on zoo crew (the tv show).
    im not sure about taronga's capacity to hold orangs being limited to just 4 individuals either. there is the main display area and indoor display area, but there is also a pretty significant network of night dens behind the scenes which could increase taronga's potential capacity. when the exhibit opened in 1994, im sure it had more than 4 orangs, and considering the exhibit is now 13 years old, i still think it is great. melbourne might have a far superior facility now, but taronga's orangs have enjoyed a far more stimulating environ for alot longer time.
    i just wish there were some other small primates in with the orangs, or even otters.
     
  6. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    the latest ARAZPA sumatran orangutan annual report and recommendations states that taronga is at holding capacity and cannot resume breeding the species until they can place the hybrids elsewhere....

    but i dunno mate, maybe you should write taronga zoo an email and suggest they acquire new orangutans anyway, and keep them locked away in their night dens so that they can breed even more orangutans!!
    :confused:
     
  7. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Patrick- thanks for update on the Taronga and Melbourne Orangutan situations;

    On the three occassions (now long ago) when I saw Santan at Melbourne, he had a very short bristly coat- probably because his hair was continually abraded by the concrete in the grottoes. Now(from a photo) he seems to have a long lustrous coat despite only recently moving into the new area.

    You say he has a good bond with his family- its thought to be a classic Sumatran trait- sometimes considered a defensive mechanism to the presence of tigers on Sumatra, as its not shown so much by Bornean males(no tigers on Borneo) It is just a theory!

    I thought Taronga's exhibit was quite good(I've seen better and much worse)
    but as there is only a single(?) outdoor exhibit, its probably difficult for them to take any more animals, especially as there is a male among the three hybrids.
    Without that hybrid male there wouldn't be a problem-the hybrid females could be on contraceptives and young Kluet(sumatran male) could have a purebred Sumatran partner i.e. 1.3 (o.2 hybrid, 1.1 sumatran)

    I guess space limitation dictates that any future Orangutan breeding at either zoo(like the Gorillas) can only be on a very occassional, managed basis.
     
  8. Zoo_Boy

    Zoo_Boy Well-Known Member

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    maybe for the better taronga for time being could remain a holder of hybrids, and allow melb and perth etc to hold pure's
     
  9. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    whilst i fully accept that if our zoos find a home of equal or better standard than the one the they can provide then there is no problem with a move, if they can't, i then our zoos must take responsibility for the animals they bred. so far they have so i'm not throwing critcisms their way...

    however, you gotta be glad that no animals wre moved to mareeba!

    tarongas exhibit looks okay, but really isn't particuarly good in my opinion. with just one small outdoor and one small indoor enclosure (i don't feel night dens are a suitable place for holding great apes for any extend periods of the day) its not really good from a management perspective. with so few zoos in the region to disperse our aimed population size and taking into account orangutans more solitary lifestyles, our zoos are going to have to take a leaf out of perths book and shift to more of a multiple enclosure type of design. the fact that taronga and melbourne in the medium term need to accomodate for non-breeding hybrids only emphasises this. but should they acommodate for them now, in the longterm the facilities will only allow for more management options and larger populations of their purebred orang colonies so really, having hybrids really only highlights what is to be a long-term issue anyway - all zoos need to be able to accomodate more orangutans in seperate enclosures.

    hope that makes sense?
     
  10. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Despite being essentially a Solitary species, many zoos nowadays keep Orangutans in larger groups, probably because it makes for a better exhibit than a single animal(s) I've seen Orangutans described in Studbook reports as 'a solitary species which can also adapt to varied social situations' in order to justify this method of exhibiting them( and I am not necessarily criticising this approach....)

    Some zoos in Europe have gone further and phased out Orangutans altogether as they are less lively and often make a poorer exhibit than Chimps or gorillas- often they look 'bored' and elicit(misguided) public sympathy- Orangutans lack facial muscles causing them an expression which to human eyes looks bored or sad (I have seen chimps in the wild and they can look just as 'bored' as their captive counterparts when they are resting)

    Its true that to manage Orangs well they really need seperate housing to get away from each other- Perth is one of very few zoos worldwide who adopt this principal and keep their orangs almost solitary apart from mother and baby dyads, and for mating. It must be nearer to wild conditions than the 'group' approach which most others follow.

    Regarding Hybrids- its fair comment that they should not be regarded as '2nd class citizens' during their lifetimes, despite their creating problems for the purebred breeding programmes.
     
  11. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    orangs do short-term socialise in the wild when there is enough food available to support them. i have not much problems with zoos displaying them in groups however, there does appear to be a much greater need to isolate certain individuals from eachother. at least moreso than chimps or gorillas.

    i'm sure zooish can enlighten us more on this issue....
     
  12. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    i was not suggesting taronga breed more orangutans Patrick, just pointing out the fact that the behind the scenes facilities gave taronga a management tool if the need to manage more than 4 animals arose.
    as for the outdoor area, i think the climbing structures do give the animals more room by creating vertical and horisontal above ground space. in conclusion i think the exhibit was pretty good for its time.
     
  13. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Yep, Orangutans do congregate short term around fruiting trees etc and also I believe younger animals are occassionally sociable too. I think maybe this is a species which would like the choice to be either sociable or solitary perhaps?

    One of the best Orang enclosures I know is at Paignton Zoo in UK- the outdoors comprises a large island with a large clump of tall trees- yet would you believe I have never seen an Orangutan climb up one! Their orangs came from LOndon Zoo where they lived many years in traditional cages- now they still seem to prefer the indoor enclosure - when they go outside they seem to stay on the ground and don't utilise the vertical space. The trees remain undamaged even after a number of years. Perhaps if they put fruit high in the trees it would encourage climbing behaviour?

    So I was surprised to hear that Perth's adult female Temara had adapted so well to living a semi-wild existence again in Sumatra.
     
  14. Zooish

    Zooish Well-Known Member

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    Orangs in the wild don't socialise for practical reasons - scarcity of food and their arboreal lifestyle - so given abundant food, the orangs don't really mind living in close proximity with one another.

    Currently Singapore Zoo has 27 orangs, the bulk being pure Borneans, with 5 pure Sumatrans and some hybrids (remnant group from the "mistake' in earlier years).

    All of them are socialised and accustomed to being physically handled by keepers from a young age. Juveniles of both subspecies are gathered in a creche and get to play together until they reach sexual maturity.

    The group structure of our orangs is very fluid, and individuals are moved around really often. The adult females and young orangs are often randomly grouped when on display or free-ranged. Only the adult males are carefully seperated, but only to prevent cross-breeding and not because of aggression and such.

    Its a very unconventional way of managing orangs, but when you have such a big group, being able to handle and move them makes it much easier to manage them. They have a team of keepers dedicated to them, and the keepers know each and every orang personally, its a very strong bond.
     
  15. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Singapore setup sounds very interesting- I saw them once and realised there were a great number of animals present...

    It seems Orangutan can live happily either solitary or sociably in captivity. I'm surprised though about Zooish's comment on their adult males being segregated for breeding reasons, rather than because of aggression. I don't know any zoos that normally keep fully adult(padded) males together- this would surely result in repeated fighting in a captive situation. In the wild the big males sometimes fight and injure each other quite badly, but of course the loser can break off and escape when he's had enough- in captivity this isn't possible and I should think fighting would have a more serious outcome.
     
  16. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    i remember reading an article in nat geo about a male orang that died from injuries sustained in a fight...

    off topic for a sec - zooish, could you enlighten us about the chimps at singapore (maybe start another thread if need be) i remember reading the zoo has has some bad publicity becuse of keeping caged baby "photo chimps" that pose for tourists but have otherwise poor lifestyles.
     
  17. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    :confused: Fully grown male Orangutans seem to be regarded very differently by different zoos. Some places they are thought very dangerous and not to be trusted, but I've also seen photos of keepers going in with them, feeding them by hand etc. Obviously it depends on the animal's own temperament and background but at one zoo in Denmark many years ago an adult male who had lived there a long time, killed his keeper....
     
  18. Zooish

    Zooish Well-Known Member

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    Forgot to clarify that there are only 2 fully adult males in our orang collection at the moment, one bornean and one sumatran, so they stick with their respective breeding groups. At an instance when 2 adult males of the same subspecies were present in our collection (in the past), they were separated i believe.

    They juvenile males are tolerated by the dominant males though.

    To answer your Qn patrick, indeed up until about 6 or 7 years ago, Singapore Zoo had photography sessions with young chimps. These were babies removed from their mothers due to medical reasons or abandonment. They were kept separate from the rest of the troop to facilitate their retrieval for photography sessions. They were eventually integrated back to the troop after they reach abt 2 to 3 years of age.

    The International Primate Protection League was the organisation that raised the issue and pressured the zoo to stop the practice, which it did. Their argument was that chimps are social animals and should not be kept in isolation, a fair and valid reason which the zoo accepted. There were allegations that the baby chimps were physically abused but they remain allegations and were never proven. The chimps did not have their teeth removed nor were they chained, drugged or dressed up.

    Sadly though, one of the young chimps named Ramba fell victim to her own liberation from the photo 'torture'. She had been kept separate from the group and upon the IPPL's pressure, she was hastily integrated back into the troop. It initially went well, but aggression and frustration both within her and the troop soon set in. Not long after her return to the troop, Ramba made a successful escape from her enclosure (the first time a chimp has ever escaped from that exhibit since it opened 20 yrs ago) passing over several hot wire barriers. As chimps are classified dangerous animals, she had to be darted and unfortunately the sedative took effect while she was high in a tree. She fell into the lake bordering the zoo and drowned before the keepers got to her.

    It was suspected that the uneasy integration back into the troop and also her frustration of not being able to leave the enclosure (when she was a photo chimp she got to ride on her keepers' bicycles around the zoo grounds daily) led to her escape.

    It was a painful lesson learnt but i'm personally glad that the photo practice has been ceased for baby chimps.

    Photography with orangs still continue, but changes have been made. Visitors are no longer allowed to make physical contact with the orangs and have to keep a distance from them. The photo sessions coincide with token feeding of the free-ranging orangs. They can choose to remain in the trees if they do not feel like 'posing' for visitors. The pic of the orang group i posted in the gallery shows the feeding/photo session.
     
  19. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    thats a very sad and unfortunate story zooish, but thatnks for the info.

    the singapore zoo sounds like the world's premier "free-range zoo" and with such a gorgeous-looking backdrop of tropical trees, i can't think of a better place.