St. Louis Zoo Orangutans

St. Louis Zoo Orangutans

I got the chance to go visit the St. Louis Zoo a few weeks ago. The St. Louis Zoo is beautiful, big, and has great exhibits. My personal favorite was the penguin/puffin exhibit. It was indoors and the temperature was set at 45 degrees F to make you feel like you are in their habitat. The penguins and puffins swam up right next to you, where you could potentially touch them, but it is heavily discouraged.

The orangutan exhibit was hard to find, for me anyways, but I also get lost easily. Lol. But I did eventually find it and it was nice. Grass, plants, and branches covered their exhibit where they were lying and rolling around. The young orangutan was carrying a blanket to cover up in and played a little bit with the adults. There are three orangutans at the STZ, one male and two females.


Merah is the mother. She was born at the Wassanaar Zoo in Holland on May 13, 1969. She is 44 years old. The keepers describe her as “patient, calculating, and picky.” When building her nest, she finds just the right materials that will make the nest nice and cozy for her baby girl, Rubih. She has great patience with her daughter as she plays with her, and in enrichment. She utilizes sticks to get honey out of nests. Orangutans are one of the few animals to make tools. Other enrichment Merah enjoys is cloth. She will throw on a t-shirt or turn it into a cape. How inventive is that!




Rubih is the daughter of Merah. She was born on June 24, 2004 at the St. Louis Zoo. Rubih showed a keen interest in learning as soon as she could. She explores her surroundings very eagerly. To inspect something, she first puts it in her mouth to taste it, even dirt. Gross! She especially likes to chew on the branches and leaves in her exhibit. Rubih is a big momma’s girl and learns her behaviors from Merah. For example, Rubih learned to scratch her back on the wall by viewing her mother.



Robert B.

Robert B. is the newest orangutan at the St. Louis Zoo. He is 20 years old. He was brought there from Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure in June 2011 on breeding recommendation from the SSP. Juara, the previous male orangutan, died in August of 2010. Robert B. will replace him as Merah’s mate. Robert B. is an outgoing orangutan who loves to visit with the zoo guests. He’ll sit by the glass and watch the visitors. He enjoys viewing cameras and jewelry also.






Ape Adaptations



Orangutans spend most of their time in the trees, unlike the other apes. Gorillas and chimps prefer the ground……which can have negative consequences…….

Indianapolis Zoo’s Orangutans (soon-to-be)

Yesterday I got to go to the Indianapolis Zoo with some good friends. The zoo is building a new Orangutan Conservation Center due to open in 2014. It will be the largest orangutan exhibit in the world!! They already have 8 orangutans that will be presented when the center opens. It should be exciting!!

Azy was born on December 14, 1977 at the National Zoo. He’s been at the Indy Zoo since 2010. ‘Azy was the first orangutan to participate in cognitive research using computer-generated symbols. Azy began this work at the National Zoo, where he lived at the Think Tank exhibit and participated in the Orangutan Language Project starting in 1995. Azy is eager to learn new tasks, especially those that provide a mental challenge, and he enjoys collaborating with human research partners. Azy is a peacekeeper, and does not tolerate fighting among the females in his social group. His relationship with Rocky and all of the females is excellent. In general, female orangutans find him very attractive. Everyone who knows Azy regard him as inquisitive, gentle, and a great role model for young males.’

Knobi was born on September 30, 1979 at the Henry Doorly Zoo. Since 2010, she has been at the Indy Zoo. ‘She is very maternal, and immediately adopted Rocky when they were introduced in 2008. She treats him as her son, although she has never had offspring of her own. Knobi has Type II diabetes that is managed very well with a proper diet and lots of activity, and she does not require medication. Knobi has a gentle disposition but is very socially confident. Knobi and Rocky play together on a daily basis. She has an excellent relationship with Azy, and they spend lots of time with each other.’

Katy was born on December 18, 1988 and into the entertainment industry. Many regard Katy as the most beautiful female orangutan they’ve ever seen. She has a passive nature, but recently has become more confident around the other orangutans and invites interactions with them. She also solicits interactions with people she favors, frequently using her whistling skills to get their attention. Katy is Rocky’s biological mother, but she did not raise him.

What is Katy’s disposition? Like many orangutans, Katy frequently chooses to spend time alone. However, she can be very playful and enjoys being tickled by people she trusts. She regularly initiates play with Rocky. Katy is a quick learner, with a fondness for puzzles. We predict that she will excel at computer-based tasks.

ROCKY  Born: September 25, 2004
Lived Where: Private ownership in the entertainment industry, birth to 2008; Great Ape Trust, 2008-2010; Indianapolis Zoo, 2010-present.

What makes Rocky unique? Rocky has a very unusual background. While in private ownership, he was the most visible orangutan in the entertainment industry. He was raised by a number of different people and did not live with other orangutans until he was 3-and-a-half years old. Young orangutans normally stay with their mothers until they are at least seven years old. He readily accepted Knobi as his adopted mom when they were introduced in 2008. She taught Rocky how to behave with other orangutans.

What is Rocky’s disposition? Happily, Rocky is a typical young male orangutan. He is energetic, extremely playful, needs lots of attention, and can sometimes be a pest. He invites play from all of the other orangutans, but most often plays with Knobi. He is remarkably bright and always ready to learn.

CHARLY  Born: March 7, 1994
Lived Where: Private ownership in the entertainment industry prior to moving to the Indianapolis Zoo, 2010-present.

What makes Charly unique
? Charly has had limited opportunities to socialize with other orangutans. This will be an important opportunity for him at the Indianapolis Zoo. He’s also a relatively small adult male, especially compared to Azy. Charly has developed trusting and playful relationships with his caretakers, and these social interactions motivate him much more than food. He quickly learns and responds to requests from people he trusts.

What is Charly’s disposition
? Charly is shy, but his confidence is growing and he can be very playful. We look forward to seeing his full personality emerge over time. Upon arrival at the Zoo, Charly was very suspicious of sheets, blankets, and soft nesting materials. He now uses these things to make elaborate beds to sleep in every night.

LUCY  Born: February 11, 1984
Lived Where: Private ownership in the entertainment industry prior to moving to the Indianapolis Zoo, 2010-present.

What makes Lucy unique? Lucy has had fairly limited opportunities to socialize with other orangutans, but is thriving in a social group with Azy, Knobi, Katy, and Rocky. She is known for her sweet, soulful eyes. She is a champion nest builder and makes extra-large and elaborate beds to sleep in every night.

What is Lucy’s disposition
? Lucy is very gentle and loves attention from her trusted caretakers. She has a dominant personality around the other orangutans, although she regularly plays with Rocky. She does not hesitate to correct him if he misbehaves. Lucy seeks out attention from Azy and is developing a great relationship with him.

BENNY  Born: March 6, 1979
Lived Where: Private ownership in the entertainment industry before moving to Zoo Atlanta. Planned move to the Indianapolis Zoo in late 2013 for acclimatization to the new International Orangutan Center.

What makes Benny unique? Like some of the other orangutans that came from entertainment, Benny has had limited opportunities to socialize with other orangutans.  Happily, he is now living full time with two females, and Benny interacts with them in normal and healthy ways.  This positive social change for Benny is a wonderful demonstration of his personality, as well as the excellent care he has received.  Benny is also Rocky’s biological father, and we look forward to providing him with the possibility to reproduce again in the near future.

What is Benny’s disposition?   Benny’s personality has started to emerge.  He now behaves much more like a fully mature adult male and displays and vocalizes which demonstrates that he has confidence and a sense of security.

NICKY  Born: July 1, 1984
Lived Where: Private ownership in the entertainment industry before moving to Zoo Atlanta. Planned move to the Indianapolis Zoo in late 2013 for acclimatization to the new International Orangutan Center.

What makes Nicky unique?  In the past, Nicky regularly interacted with other female orangutans, but rarely spent time with any males. Her current setting allows her to have more social flexibility.  She can now socialize with Benny and another young female, which is a very positive change for her.  Like most female orangutans, food is a very high priority for her. She has responded very well to the healthy and varied diet that she receives.

What is Nicky’s disposition?  It’s easy to summarize Nicky’s personality.  She is remarkably sweet and calm.  Although she is not related to Lucy, they look very much alike and share the same overall demeanor. We predict that she and Azy will develop an exceptionally good relationship.

*All information was copied verbatim from the Indianapolis Zoo website in May 18, 2013.