As with all my blogging, please note that what I have written below comes from my observations and public articles I've read or viewed, and not from the LA Zoo itself. My blogs are not affiliated with the Los Angeles Zoo. I am not an expert, only a quiet observer, and reader on great apes. LA Zoo is near my residence and has been a convenient and wonderful place for me to observe these wonderful creatures. I began observing them when I started walking at the LA Zoo for my health. (The zoo's beauty and life kept me motivated to keep walking.) The great apes grabbed my attention, and so I began researching outside articles and videos as I continued to observe these incredible animals. Thus, my blogs.
Ok, I've been informed that the Alafia debut may not be until May or June. :( I suppose the gorillas have others things to keep them occupied while we fans are eagerly anticipating the new family debut. Oh, well.
So, on to the Red Ape Forest where the Orangutans of the LA Zoo reside. I've become very fond of the zoo's orangs since I started volunteering for Orangutan Watch several hours a week. Orangutans are very interesting animals with great intelligence and problem solving skills. I've heard it said at times, "Give a chimpanzee a problem to solve and it will work on it a couple of hours, get about 90% of it accomplished, and then give up. Give a gorilla the same problem, it will work on it a couple of days, get about 90% of it accomplished, and then give up. Give an orangutan the same problem, and it will work on it for a couple of weeks, but will get it accomplished." Not only are orangutans intelligent, they are skilled at making and using rudimentary tools to accomplish what they want done. If they don't have a project that they are doing, they are thinking about one, or else observing for more ideas.
Whereas adult gorillas usually stick to the ground and chimpanzees are both on ground and in the trees, the orangutans in the wild are more arboreal ... spending most of their time in the trees. According to an orangutan researcher with whom I spoke, in the wild, though the orangutans cannot move their arms as quickly nor their wrists in order to reach and climb as the chimps can, the orangutans are resourceful and will use their weight to move the branches closer together for reaching and other resourceful methods of climbing.
The gorillas live in small family units with a single silverback leader. The chimps live in large units with several males who often vie for alpha position. But, the orangutans live solitary lives in the forests of Borneo or Sumatra. Only the mothers live with their children for about 7 to 8 years. When mating is wanted, they make long calls to help them be found.
At 40 years old, Eloise is the oldest LA Zoo Bornean Orangutan. Eloise was born at the Los Angeles Zoo (Old Griffith Park Zoo) in November 1968. Her mother didn't know how to remove the afterbirth, and, for 20 minutes while the keepers tried to get her from her mother, she went without oxygen. They worked hard at reviving her, and succeeded. As a result, she now suffers from cerebral palsy and mental disabilities, but she does incredibly well. Her right eye droops, her bottom lip hangs out awkwardly often with her tongue in sight, her feet are not nimble, and she moves very slowly. Instead of "walking" as the other orangs, Eloise normally rolls to get from one place to the other since her feet do not work well. But, Eloise does most everything the others do. She climbs and visits with visitors often. She's even had art sold on auction. Actually, Eloise was the dominant female for awhile because she didn't try to get away from the males, and they couldn't resist. So, she's had several offspring, including the resident Rosie. She often plays happily with 4 year old Berani. Or, the others, like Bruno or Rosie will bring her some love and care from time to time. Bruno is very fond of Eloise, and they can be quite the lovebirds at times.
Eloise looking up at her sweetheart, Bruno:
Bruno assisting Eloise up the wall to see the keeper:
Eloise climbing up the netting and over to go in for the evening:
Eloise finishing her breakfast:
Eloise eating a snack:
Eloise is shot a look from Kalim when Kalim thinks Eloise is stealing her attention:
Eloise bonding with a small child:
Eloise loves my oldest son, and comes to visit him every chance she gets: