I like two things at a zoo: penguins and monkeys. While my family may drag me all over the zoo to see all the animals — they go crazy for the lions and tigers — but I want to see the penguins and monkeys.
So when I got to see the orangutans up close, I was pretty thrilled.
And yes, I know orangutans aren’t monkeys. But they are primates, and they’re a lot closer to monkeys than they are to penguins.
The trip I was on was for travel writers, and we were given a short tour of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. The zoo was closed, but everyone was rushing around, getting ready for the opening week two weeks later.
We had a chance to visit the Indonesian rainforest and look around. And that’s where we saw the orangutans. They came right up to the window to check us out, and we spent several minutes studying us, as we studied them.
Our guide explained to us that because the zoo had been closed for several months over the winter, the orangutans had not seen people for a while, so they were interested in them again. During the year, after seeing thousands of people a week, they don’t always want to come up to the window. But since they hadn’t seen anyone since winter started, they wanted to check us out. I managed to get some great pictures, and even took some video on my Flip.
The number of orangutan in the world have been declining for years, and is in danger of becoming extinct. One major reason is the deforestation of Indonesian forests as people try to harvest palm oil. The world orangutan population is estimated to be around 10,000 orangutans.