Orangutans and other large primates have unique enclosure and caging needs.
In the wild orangutans are arboreal, moving about the tree canopy. Their long arms and hand-like feet make them strong climbers, an activity they need in captivity. Orangutans are somewhat solitary, yet they are inquisitive and very interested in their surroundings. This provides several clues as to what orangutans prefer in their enclosure. One tip to keep in mind with all primates is that their enclosure is their home, not a “workspace.” It is critical to provide the enrichment they need to thrive.
Orangutan enclosures must provide opportunities to climb and live on the floor space.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums notes that when orangutans cannot climb, lethargy sets in along with health issues. The primates often begin playing with feces if the living space does not provide proper environmental enrichment. We designed our Closed Weave Hammock to make it easy to create elevated lounging areas for orangutans and other large primates like baboons, gibbons, mandrills, chimpanzees, and gorillas. The ability of the hammock to swing is considered the ideal type of elevated environment for climbing primates.
Rosemary Markham of Perth Zoo documents the benefits of manipulable enrichment products in their long-term care and successful breeding program.
Treat feeders, like the Spin A Snack are particularly interesting to orangutans and other primates. The rotating dispenser acts as a puzzle with a treat reward. Primates also enjoy being able to push, throw and carry objects. The Kong Wobbler satisfies this desire and can take rough play. Smithsonian’s National Zoo Primates Curator Meredith Bastian, in her studies of nesting orangutans, found that enrichment devices are often carried into the nest. They are probably comforting to the primates.
Angela Hatke, from the Cincinnati Zoo, stresses that orangutans are problem solvers and benefit from challenging enrichment devices. The Phoenix Zoo emphasizes cognitive enrichment as an important component of orangutan care. Otto Environmental’s Honeycomb can be loaded with yam, corn, oranges, bananas, berries, and pears. Primates can carry and manipulate the Honeycomb for a treat.
Orangutan Foundation International has recommended hanging tire swings for orangutan enrichment.
The swing provides exercise, a perch to observe visitors and other primates, and a place to interact with another orangutan when desired. The Tirezan Primate Swing is a popular enrichment device for baboons, gibbons, mandrills, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. All you need to do is hang it. No DIY drilling, cutting, and fabricating!
Keep in mind each orangutan has his/her own preference for enrichment activities.
Emily Bricker, primate keeper at the National Zoo, works with a variety of primates, including siamangs, lemurs, gorillas, and orangutans. “To work with orangutans, it helps to have a lot of patience and the ability to think five steps ahead. Orangutans are wild animals and aren’t always gentle. Because orangutans are so smart, strong, and curious, keepers have to be very thoughtful about the types of enrichment we give them.” Otto Environmental has developed a wide range of enrichment products that are sure to keep your primates engaged and happy.