A Very Moving Story

A Very Moving Story

Orangutans build new nests everyday to sleep in. They use leaves, twigs, branches, and anything else they can find.


Phoenix Zoo

I was planning on visiting the Phoenix Zoo on July 1. My trip was canceled though due to record breaking temperatures. The PZoo is mainly outdoors and I didn’t want to battle the heat without shade. I was highly disappointed though because the Phoenix Zoo is the only zoo in Arizona with orangutans. There are three orangutans residing at this zoo:  mother, father, and daughter. In Spring of 2011, the PZoo opened up Orang-Hutan: “People of the Forest.” This new facility gave a large outdoor exhibit and two indoor exhibits for the orangutans to roam around. In June of 2012, the oldest living orangutan at the time, Duchess, passed due to cancer.


Photo: Our first birthday wish today is going out to Bornean female Bess at the Phoenix Zoo.  Bess is turning 35 today!  Let's hope Kasih and Michael let her celebrate in peace!  She looks so much like her mom Duchess in this pic :)Photo Credit - Denise Wagner

Photo credit: Denise Wagner

Bess is a female Bornean orangutan. She was born at the Phoenix Zoo on March 26, 1979 to Duchess. She is the mother of Kasih and the mate of Michael. Kasih is her first offspring. Bess is shy and uses the large exhibit to keep her distance away from Michael. However she is bright and learns new behaviors very easily. Something she taught herself was if she got her hand wet by the misters and held it over her head, she would keep herself cool.


Photo: We're back in Phoenix for Bornean male Michael's 26th birthday!  I know it will be a great time, Denise and Bob really know how to throw a good party!Photo Credit - Denise Wagner

Photo credit: Denise Wagner

Michael is a male Bornean orangutan. He was born at the Los Angeles Zoo on March 27, 1987. He was transferred to the Phoenix Zoo in October 2000. He is Kasih’s father. He is the dominant orangutan in the group and has an outgoing, comedic personality. He loves playing with enrichment will play tricks on the keepers, such as spitting water at them.


Photo: We are also celebrating the 7th birthday of Bornean female Kasih at the Phoenix Zoo!  Kasih is the daughter of the lovely Bess and handsome Michael and the granddaughter of the one and only Duchess.  We know Denise and Bob are making this day extra special for this feisty little lady! Happy Birthday Kasih!

Photo Credit - Denise Wagner

Photo credit: Denise Wagner

Kasih is a female Bornean orangutan. She was born at the Phoenix Zoo on January 27, 2006. She is a playful young orangutan. Before her grandmother, Duchess, died, Kasih would play around with her the most. She has characteristics of both her parents: shy, sensitive, and comedic. Another personality trait is intuition. She has correctly predicted outcomes to Cardinal’s games and the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.


Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo

The Orangutan Forest was opened in 2005. It is 15 times larger than the old orangutan exhibit, which is great. The trees have timed enrichment traps, so the orangutans get the enrichment at various times throughout the day. These traps encourage the orangutans to seek and find the food throughout the trees, a natural behavior.



Sepilok is a female Bornean orangutan. She was born on July 22, 2001 at the Hong Kong Zoo. She transferred to the Omaha Zoo in September of 2003. Sepilok is the name of an orangutan rehabilitation facility in Sandakan, Malaysia. Sepilok* was hanging around Amoi and climbing on the net while I was watching them.



Yasmine is a female Bornean orangutan. She was born on February 17, 1978 at the Twycross Zoo in England. She was transferred to the Omaha Zoo in September of 2003 from Hong Kong. Yasmin is moving to another zoo soon to go live with a male orangutan. Yasmine* was cuddled up with a blanket in a branch when I went. She was really cute.



Amoi is a female Bornean orangutan. She was born at the Omaha Zoo on May 3, 2003. One enrichment she enjoys is playing in the sawdust and foraging for food items and toys. At the Zoo, Amoi* and another female were sitting next to each other by the net; alternating between relaxing and playing.



W’gasa is a male orangutan. He was born on March 2, 2005 at the Omaha Zoo. W’gasa enjoys food enrichment. Last February he was given a frozen heart made out of koolaid. He joyously was sucking at it and eating it. W’gasa is a very active, young orangutan who likes to interact with the public. When I was at the zoo, he was doing the splits on the exhibit wall and reaching out to the guests. I got a good picture of him. Unfortunately it is a dark picture.



Credit: April Gossmann

Chip is a Bornean male orangutan. He was born on January 29, 1993 at the Rochester Zoo. He was transferred to the Omaha Zoo in November of 1998. When I went to the Omaha Zoo, Chip was chilling in the left exhibit. He was on the ground in the shade relaxing.

Tukang Susu:


Tukang Susu is a Bornean male orangutan. He was born on January 27, 1998 at the Pittsburg Zoo. His name means “The Milkman.” The events following his birth changed how the zoo community worked with orangutans. As a baby, Tukang suffered a few medical crises. Also Ember, a female orangutan, took Tukang from his mother, Kim. Kim was not successful in getting him back. As a result, Ember ended up raising him. During Tukang’s second medical issue, both Ember and Kim were pregnant. Because Tukang was still a baby, it was worried that Tukang wouldn’t get the proper care from Ember, especially with his medical issues. To ensure all orangutans would get the proper care, orangutan husbandry changed over to behavior training using positive reinforcement. The results were transformative for the orangutans, staff, and the world. Orangutans that were once distrustful and distant, were interactive and trusting.

*I am not sure if I got the correct pictures of the three females. I am only guessing.


  • Farmarie, M. (2001). Response To A Medical Crisis: A New Approach To Orangutan Husbandry At The Pittzburg Zoo and Aquarium. The apes: challenges for the 21st century, conference proceedings (pp. 112-115). Chicago: Chicago Zoological Society.
  •  Laukaitis, A. J. (2005, May 26). Orangutans get new exibit at Omaha zoo : The Lincoln Journal Star Online. Lincoln Journal Star Online : Lincoln’s news leader. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://journalstar.com/news/local/orangutans-get-new-exibit-at-omaha-zoo/article_65e59ab3-d527-5589-9cc2-3ec12ab9e824.html
  •  Machain, C. (2012, February 14). Valentine’s Day at the zoo | Omaha.com Viewfinder. Omaha.com Viewfinder | Photos and video from the staff of the Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://blogs.omaha.com/2012/02/14/valentines-day-at-the-zoo
  • Perkins, Lori. International Studbook of the Orangutan. Chicago: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2002. Print.