Some stunning spring weather in Auckland this week proved the perfect time for female orangutan Daya to have her first experience out in the Zoo’s South East Asia Jungle Track high canopy habitat. As you can see from these photos – she absolutely loved it!

Eleven-year-old Daya arrived from Ouwehands Zoo (The Netherlands) in July as part of an international breeding and advocacy programme for her Critically Endangered species.

Now out of quarantine, this very sensitive, smart, and lovely natured orangutan is slowly learning to navigate all of the different inside areas of the habitat (the ape house) and from a safely separated physical distance, gradually getting to know her new orangutan family.

“It’s really important that Daya feels completely comfortable and confident in all of the inside and outside areas of the habitat before she’s integrated with Charlie, Melur and Melur’s son Bahmi,” says primate keeper Grace, who’s been taking the lead in Daya’s care and management.

“We have been seeing lots of positive interest both ways. They’ve been passing food to each other through the mesh, and there’s been some lovely interactions between Daya and Bahmi, who is clearly intrigued by her. Charlie is also very interested, though she is taking a bit more time to feel confident around him,” says Grace.

Orangutans are highly intelligent and complex animals, and Grace and the team are being led by Daya’s behaviour. This means allowing everything to happen at her pace and choosing – to help build her confidence and to grow and develop that all-important relationship of trust and respect between Daya and her keepers that is central to the Zoo’s orangutan programme.

Grace and the team are delighted by Daya’s great first experience of the high canopy.

“It was amazing to see Daya out up in the trees and in the sunshine; and from what we observed she seemed to really love the environment.  As is her style, she initially likes to take everything in and test things out. Yesterday (Wednesday) when she first came outside, she stayed in one spot for a bit, but was then soon off exploring, checking out one of the tree nests and then going up to the top of one of the canopy climbers,” explains Grace.

In the coming days, weather permitting, Daya will continue to have the choice to venture outside, so if you’re visiting us, you may be lucky enough to see her! (Occasionally, this may mean that the siamang could be unable to be visited).