We’re celebrating two special milestones – Bornean orangutan Bahmi turned two yesterday, and today Charlie is celebrating his 43rd birthday!

Our primate team created an enriching birthday meal for the group which included raw capsicum – one of Bahmi’s favourites! Bahmi has nearly completely transitioned to an all-solids diet now and enjoys stripping his own browse (leafy vegetation) for nutritious bark and leaves.

Primate keeper Jacqui says, “Personality-wise Bahmi is on the trajectory to becoming a mischievous and curious orangutan. He especially is fond of his ‘aunty’ Daya and loves to grab any moment he can to interact with her - which in turn gives mum Melur a nice break!” Our team have started positive reinforcement training with Bahmi so he can start to participate in his own health care. At this stage he is learning to show our primate keepers his hands and feet in exchange for a food reinforcer.

Charlie continues to be an amazing and patient father to Bahmi, and partner to Melur. Now at the incredible age of 43, part of his ongoing care involves our primate and veterinary teams monitoring his health and wellbeing. Orangutans are a long-lived species and can live into their fifties, with a lifespan usually into their forties. At this advanced age, Charlie is starting to show behaviour typically seen in elderly orangutans which involves sleeping a wee bit longer and moving a little slower. He is still incredibly sharp and loves to participate in training sessions.

Deputy Curator of Mammals Amy Robbins shares a very close bond with Charlie, having been his primary trainer for over 20 years. “Charlie is the reason I came to have a passion for orangutans which has led me to the most privileged career caring for orangutans and being actively involved in world renowned orangutan conservation programmes. I owe so much to Charlie and am very lucky to have this long-term relationship which has spanned half of both our lives. Charlie has been the face of advocacy for many of our key conservation campaigns and has inspired millions of visitors to take action to help wild orangutans. This important ambassador role is the reason we have orangutans at Auckland Zoo”.

Come and visit our orangutan group this weekend!