There’s a new boy at Paignton Zoo – and animal staff are hoping for big things from him. Adult male Bornean orang utan Wousan arrived from Cologne Zoo in Germany at the weekend and can already be seen in the charity zoo’s great ape complex.
He was born at Arnhem Zoo, in the Netherlands, on 19th May 2008, so will be marking his 9th birthday within a few days. Weighing-in at around 50 kilos, he is said to be a nice young male who is naturally inquisitive and playful. His favourite food is chicory.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment said: “We are really pleased to welcome Wousan to his new home. He has some growing to do before he looks like a fully adult male orang utan, but he is already old enough to sire babies, which is the reason we have brought him in. He is being mixed with Gambira initially as she is not carrying a youngster, but he will also get to know Chinta and Mali with a view to him mating with them too in due course.”
Neil Bemment is also, among other things, Vice Chair of the European Association of Zoos & Aquaria European Endangered species Programme Committee and Vice-coordinator for the orang utan European Endangered species Programme.
Paignton Zoo’s last adult male orang utan Demo, died in 2014 after the reoccurrence of a long-term respiratory infection. However, he fathered two babies; Tatau was born to Mali in April 2013 and has just turned 4, while Natalia was born to Chinta in late December of the same year. Tatau was the conservation charity’s first orang utan birth in 16 years.
The number of Bornean orang utans in the world is estimated at around 50,000, which means there are fewer Bornean orang utans in the entire world than there are human beings in Torquay (the population of Torquay is about 62,000). In the wild they may live to 35 or 45 years, while in zoos that can extend to up to 60.
The Bornean orang utan (Pongo pygmaeus) is threatened by hunting, the pet trade and the destruction of its rainforest habitat. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 01803 697500.
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