Hutan Jungle Reserve

Be sure to spend some time observing the family of Sumatran orangutans found on the island of Sumatra – if you can’t spot them here, continue your journey into Monsoon Forest for another opportunity to see them.

Sumatran orangutan

The family of Sumatran orangutans have settled in well since moving into their new habitat on Islands

Before making the move, a lot of work went into building and preparing their new home. The priority was to encourage natural animal behaviour and, following a number of years of research carried out in the zoo, we factored a number of things into the habitat design process.

Sumatran orangutan

To ensure the animals are settling well it’s important to observe their behaviour before they move and after they move. We study the behaviour of a number of the animals at Chester Zoo to understand what they do and why they might do it.

The way an animal responds to new objects or environments is very important when considering design and feeding devices. Individual behaviour is also important as it tells us how an animal is responding to a new environment or enrichment.

Kat Finch, one of Chester Zoo’s behaviour and welfare interns, has been studying the behaviour of the Sumatran orangutans, and has been monitoring the changes since they moved. She tells us more below:

My project with the science team involves monitoring the zoos wonderful group of Sumatran orangutans as they settle into their brand new home on Islands.Using behavioural observations, I calculate an ‘activity budget’ for each individual which tells me how they spend their day. I’m also recording information on where each orangutan spends time within the enclosure and who they choose to spend their time with. All of this data can then be analysed to see how well they are settling into their new home.

Another exciting aspect of my project is monitoring the orangutan’s behaviour when the zoo is closed, to see what time they go to bed and who they choose to sleep with at night. It’s been amazing to see what they have been getting up to. I’m having a fantastic time observing this charismatic species and am extremely excited to see my project develop.

Sumatran orangutan

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered in the wild so it is extremely important to understand as much as we can about them. Sadly, their treetop homes are being lost to make way for oil palm plantations which is pushing them, and the other animals that share the forest with them, closer to extinction.

We’re working with projects in Sumatra and Borneo to help protect these magnificent animals before it’s too late. But we can ALL do more to help; learn more about palm oil, how it’s affecting orangutans and what you can do to help by going to our Act for Wildlife website.

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