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Break out the peanuts and popsicles, it's Orangutan Caring Week!

Posted by Hattie Potter, Development
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

This week is Orangutan Caring Week, a fantastic time to highlight the orangutans living at our zoo! This week serves as a poignant reminder of how critical it is to safeguard these majestic creatures and their rapidly diminishing forest habitats. Thank you to our wonderful staff on the orangutan animal care team for helping us get to know these incredible primates and for caring for them every single day. 

As part of the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (Orangutan SSP), Woodland Park Zoo staff work closely with other conservation zoos around the country to develop goals towards orangutan research, education, advocacy, conservation and animal husbandry.

Together with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Orangutan SSP serves the accredited zoos that house orangutans. Working closely with respected professionals in the field, the SSP provides help and guidance to zoos housing orangutans. Together, zoos and the SSP seek to provide the best possible environment for these amazing apes.

Meet the orangutans at Woodland Park Zoo

Heran was born on February 19, 1989, and is the zoo's oldest male orangutan at 34 years old. Heran is the only adult male and is the largest of all the orangutans. He has cheek pads, long hair and a large throat sac. He lives with Bela in the east orangutan exhibit.


Belawan was born on May 17, 1981. She is the zoo's oldest orangutan at 42 years old. Heran and Bela were both born here at Woodland Park Zoo! Bela is the largest female and has the darkest hair of all the orangutans.

Bela (Belawan) Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Godek is our young male orangutan and shares a birthday with Heran! Born on February 19, 2009, he is 14 years old. Godek was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado and arrived at WPZ in the summer of 2017. Godek is still growing and is just beginning to get cheek pads and longer limbs. He shares the west orangutan exhibit with Batu and is getting to be larger than her and has more hair. 


Batu is our young female orangutan who was born on October 2, 2009, making her 14 years old. Batu was born at the Philadelphia Zoo and came to live at our zoo in the spring of 2021. The skin on Batu's eyelids is very light, which is a sign of being young. This lightness will go away as she matures.


What are their favorite snacks/treats?
The orangutans get special food enrichment daily! Their favorites are mixed nuts, peanuts, popcorn, diluted juice, popsicles made by their care team and small amounts of peanut butter. They also love any kind of fruit.

Do they get along and share their exhibit well?
There are two pairs of orangutans, and each pair shares an exhibit. Both pairs get along really well with each other! Due to competition between males, the two pairs do not share the same space.

Do they have a favorite spot where they like to hang out in their exhibit?
Heran and Bela spend a majority of their time outside, especially near the waterfall in the outdoor section of their exhibit. When inside, they're usually in their hammocks or in their nests that they build for sleeping.

Godek and Batu utilize all of their exhibit space but can usually be found resting in their hammocks, whether inside or outside.

Godek and Batu mid play-sesh!

What actions can you take to help orangutans in the wild?
Forests are home and habitat to more than 75% of our planet's terrestrial life and protect the health and well-being of all living creatures. You can help protect the tropical rainforests orangutans depend on by purchasing food and other products made with certified sustainable palm oil. View our sustainable palm oil guide to ensure your consumer decisions help in the protection of forests and safeguard the homes of orangutans.

Woodland Park Zoo supports species-saving initiatives working towards ensuring a brighter future for these intelligent and iconic animals, including partnering with the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program to support forest-friendly livelihoods and education in communities that share orangutan habitat in and around Gunung Palung National Park. The zoo also works with HUTAN Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Program to help meet the needs of local people and to restore critical habitat corridors for orangutans, elephants, hornbills and other endangered species in Malaysian Borneo. Your support helps make this work possible!

#OrangutanAwarenessWeek #OrangutanCaringWeek