Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kalim: The Ornery One

Kalim Peeking in the Window at Me

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.

While Auntie Evelyn and Glenda may be the stars of Campo Gorilla Reserve, Kalim, along with her daughter Berani, are no doubt the stars of the Red Ape Forest, which houses the orangutans of Los Angeles Zoo. Kalim was born at the LA Zoo, and is about 27 years old now. Kalim is the mother of Bosco Orangina Berani, but is also the half-sister of Rosie. She has been a good mother, and is very intelligent and often mischievous. She is often seen grabbing for or using her inventions and "tools" to reach leaves or branches on the outside of the enclosure. But, she has a habit of spitting at guests if they irritate her or attempt to take things from her or hand them to her. (Btw, NEVER do that!) Of course, she'll also spit at you if she likes you.

I decided to blog on Kalim today because early last week she suddenly took an interest in my husband. While he stood by quietly and watched her, she suddenly went wild ... shaking the netting and spitting at the other guests nearby. Then, she went and hid. While she hid, she peeked at my husband. But, from time to time, she would display her wild streak, and then go back into hiding as she kept an eye on my hubby. It became very apparent that Tom was the reason for her outbursts, and so I told him to leave for awhile, and then go to the observation window and calmly sit and watch her. He did just that. Suddenly, she caught site of him from across the exhibit, and she quickly made her way over to the window, spitting and shaking the netting as she came. After she got to the window, she swung on the fire hoses and put on quite a show for him, and then quietly sat in front of him. After a short time, she began kissing his hands that were on the glass, and his forehead. It was obvious, she was quite smitten by him. So, since then, Tom has made several visits to her. Every visit, she has come to see him, and has made some type of display ... usually shaking the nettting and spitting, but sometimes more subtle displays. When we leave, she'll follow him until she can no longer see him. He seems to have become quite an enrichment activity for her, to say the least.

Please understand, though, that Tom does not call out to Kalim. He stands quietly and respects her. When he is at the glass, he sits quietly and observes her displays of affection ... only placing his hands and forehead on the glass as he sits and watches her. When he is at the netting, he warns others nearby of her possible actions, and removes himself when she becomes too ornery. Even when she attempts to play with him, by trying to feed a firehose to him, he only watches ... he doesn't attempt to interact other than by observing. For, he knows that he holds germs that Kalim or the others may not be able to handle. And, to interact with the orangutans other than observing would be a poor example to the young children nearby. Orangutans are very strong and could easily hurt anyone trying to touch them or come too close to them. And, playing tug-a-war or catch with them is a very dangerous feat, and should never be attempted. If orangutans, which are highly endangered, are to survive, it is important we allow them to be orangutans and not interact too much with them.

Kalim - Taking it Easy:
Kalim - Taking it Easy

Kalim loves treats, and will often find "contraband" or gather her daughter's "contraband" in order to trade with the keepers for treats. Contraband includes sticks or rocks that are too large or items like cell phones that visitors have dropped nearby. Below is a picture of Kalim begging for more treats:
Kalim Begs for More

Kalim is very intelligent and able. The following picture shows Kalim catching one of her treats (yes, she caught it):
Kalim Catching Her Monkey Chow

Kalim watching her visitors and the others in the other exhibits from high above:
Kalim Watches from High Above

Kalim getting some love from her daughter, Berani:
Berani Brings Mama Kalim Some Love

Kalim checks to see if I'm still taking pictures:
Kalim Checks to See if I'm Still Taking Pics

Kalim checking on her audience:
Kalim Peers In

Kalim notices a young girl wavaing at her, and reaches out:
Kalim Reaches Out

Kalim waves back to the young girl:
Kalim Waves

Silly Kalim:
Kalim ...

Kalim debating about what project she wants to begin next:

Kalim - Gone fishin':
Gone Fishin'

Kalim shielding Berani from the noisy news helicopter:

Kalim is ready to turn in:
Kalim Ready to Turn In


  1. It was interesting seeing Kalim respond to your husband the way she did. I never thought I would see that behavior other than when the keepers are near.

    Also, a couple of years ago when Berani was younger, Kalim started throwing small rocks at me. I wasn't doing anything other than looking at her and Berani, but she decided that she wanted to throw rocks at me.

    Great photos!

  2. Mario, I think her throwing things may be a way of showing off for you. She started throwing things at us today ... but she also went and kissed on Tom at the glass, and then followed us out again.