November 7, 2012

CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd

(Media Cell for press inquiries only: 502-744-5639)



Louisville Zoo’s Orangutan Awareness Weekend November 10-11

Learn what you can do to help orangutans

Experts predict that orangutans could be extinct in the wild in 10 years. On November 10 and 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., find out how you can help these magnificent animals during Louisville Zoo’s Orangutan Awareness Weekend.

 Both days will feature enrichment programs that include a food toss at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and special zookeeper talks at 10:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the Islands exhibit. Docents will also be on hand Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from Noon to 3 p.m. to provide information, biofacts and more. A typical orangutan diet will be displayed and kids can pick up orangutan coloring sheets.

 Orangutan Awareness Weekend is free with Zoo admission and for Zoo members.

 The Louisville Zoo is home to four orangutans—females Bella, 28, and Amber, 26; and 25-year-old males Segundo and Teak. In fact, Segundo’s birthday is November 12.

 Orangutans are considered one of the closet living relatives to humans, sharing 97 percent of the same DNA and are very intelligent. They have complex social relationships and are capable of forming strong social attachments. The bond formed between mother and offspring is particularly strong and results in the longest childhood (up to 10 years) of any ape species.

 Historically, orangutans were found throughout Southeast Asia and even as far north as China. But today with the rapid decline of their rainforest homes, orangutans live only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. It is estimated that suitable orangutan habitat in Malaysia and Sumatra has declined by more than 80 percent in the last two decades, and the wild population of Sumatran orangutans has dropped by nearly half.

 According to a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme in February 2007, the spread of palm oil plantations and illegal logging to the national parks in Indonesia constitutes a conservation emergency for the critically endangered orangutan. Palm oil is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to trans fats, and is found in one of 10 supermarket products, including margarine, baked goods, sweets, detergents and lipsticks. There is also an increasing market for vegetable oil as a renewable fuel (biofuel), in response to the need to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, and palm oil is currently considered the most productive source of biodiesel fuel. Organizations like the United Nations Environment Programme and the Indonesian government are working to find economically and environmentally responsible solutions.

A free Orangutan-Friendly palm-oil shopping guide will also be made available this weekend indicating which companies use sustainable source palm oil.

The Louisville Zoo participates in the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), which carefully manages and oversees all aspects of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) captive population of orangutans. 

For more information about the Zoo visit www.louisvillezoo.org.


Dare to Care Food Bank is a local non-profit organization with a mission to lead our community to feed the hungry and conquer the cycle of need.  Dare to Care annually distributes more than 15 million pounds of food, including 4 million pounds of fresh produce, through its 300 partner food pantries, emergency kitchens and shelters as well as its Kids Cafe and award-winning Backpack Buddy program.  Dare to Care provided food assistance to 192,000 people in Kentuckiana in the past twelve months.

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The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).