Auckland Zoo’s three Bornean orangutans will fly south to Christchurch in the early hours of tomorrow morning (Thursday) bound for their temporary new home, Orana Wildlife Park.
Male Charlie and females Melur and Wanita will have a two-year stay at Orana while Auckland Zoo builds its long planned-for South East Asian precinct. Among many habitats and species, it will include an expansive new home for these Critically Endangered arboreal great apes.
The Zoo’s Primate team leader Amy Robbins says a great deal of work and planning has gone into the trio’s relocation which involves two road trips and a 2.5 hour flight on a Qantas cargo plane, including the design of their transportation crates.
“Our purpose-built marine aluminium crates are the equivalent of (super-sized) first-class seats – specifically designed to make Charlie, Melur and Wanita’s journey as comfortable and stress-free as possible. They have everything from just the right amount of ventilation, a comfortable floor which we’ll cover with bedding/browse, water drinkers and ‘hand holds’ – as being arboreal, orangutans like to have something to hold onto. We’ll also be treating them to a lunch-box of their favourite fruits and vegetables,” says Amy, who will be at Orana with a Primate team colleague and Auckland Zoo vet when the orangutans arrive.
Auckland Zoo has worked closely with Orana staff in preparation for the orangutans’ move into its Great Ape Centre to ensure the set-up here meets all the needs and requirements of these highly intelligent primates.