TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center is welcoming a new arrival from the Kansas City Zoo.
Ashley Read, Topeka Zoo spokeswoman, said a female, 14-year-old Bornean orangutan named Kalijon is joining the orangutan family at the zoo. Kalijon, or Kali, arrived in Topeka on May 10 and joins resident orangutans Mawas, Rudi, Bumi and Udara.
Kali’s arrival is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendations, which exist to maintain genetic diversity and health populations of respective species, according to Read. The program especially focuses on helping threatened and endangered species.
“We are excited to have Kali join our group,” said Zookeeper Beckee Niemackl. “We already know that Kali is exceptionally bright. She’s a bit of a firecracker, and loves interacting with other orangutans and staff. We hope that seeing Kali and the other orangutans will encourage guests to become more active in what they can do to protect their natural habitat.”
Kali was born in 2009 and had to be reared by human caregivers for the first four months of her life as her birth mother was unable to care for her properly, according to Read. Another orangutan was trained to care for Kali to take over for the zookeepers, allowing her to flourish within the Kansas City Zoo.
“Sometimes animals are moved to different zoos to support group dynamics or make space for animals at other facilities,” said CEO Brendan Wiley. “While there is no current breeding recommendation for Kali, both she and Bumi can learn important child-rearing behaviors from Rudi and Mawas. There’s always the chance that they will be an important part of establishing future generations.”
Bornean orangutans originally come from the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, according to Read. They are the largest arboreal mammal, spending the majority of their lives in trees. Every subspecies of the orangutan is considered to be endangered due to being threatened by deforestation.