Gorillas are not the only great apes in our midst as a family of six orangutans arrived Tuesday at Gulf Breeze Zoo, a ZAA accredited facility.
The Zoo has been working in conjunction with the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Connecticut to bring orangutans back to the facility.
“This is an incredible homecoming for us, as two of the orangutans were here 10 years ago” said CEO, Eric Mogensen. “Sara gave birth to her daughter, Indah, at Gulf Breeze Zoo in 2005 before they were relocated to LEO. In Connecticut they were grouped with other orangutans and did well. With a change of plans at LEO we were able to procure this larger, well-acclimated group of orangutans for the zoo. The group we have here now consists of 4 breeding age females, one breeding male and a young 3-year-old male still with his mother.”
The Gulf Breeze Zoo was selected as the new home for the orangutans based on the facility’s high standards, dedication to conservation, and large natural ape habitats according to a press release.
The specially designed island habitat is over 43,000 square feet, providing one of the largest orangutan habitats in the United States. The island provides a lush environment including mature trees and climbing structures. Coupled with the warm temperatures and humidity, Florida provides an ideal environment that mimics their wild home, Southeast Asia.
“With less than 300 individuals in zoological parks in North America, it’s an honor to work with these iconic
species,” said Conservation Coordinator, Katy Massey. “But our goal is bigger than six individuals, we want to help save the entire species.”
Orangutan populations have declined by as much as 97 percent in the past century. Indonesia has the hig
hest deforestation rate in the world, which means fewer and fewer homes for these incredible species.
As the Gulf Breeze Zoo continues to develop conservation efforts around the globe, they will not only be providing financial aid to programs in the field, but also developing stateside programs to raise awareness of the palm oil crisis. While the orangutans are the centerpiece of this campaign, conservation programs will benefit other species they share the jungle with, such as siamangs, gibbons, clouded leopards, tapirs, rhinos and elephants.
The Gulf Breeze Zoo is privately owned and receives zero tax dollars. Funding for conservation programs like these are made possible through the continued support of zoo guests. The orangutans can be viewed daily, weather dependent, on their island, visible from the train and boardwalk.
The Gulf Coast Area’s award-winning Gulf Breeze Zoo is home to more than 800 exotic animals. The Zoo opens at 9 a.m. daily and is located just off Highway 98.