For our final e-portfolio we drew from the knowledge we have of zoo’s as it pertains to an animals well being and either traveled to the Duke Lemur Center, the Greensboro Science Center or watched online live feeds of primates in enclosures found at different zoos. For my final post I chose to observe the Siamangs and Orangutans found at the San Diego Zoo.
I began by watching the Siamangs. Siamangs are both the largest and darkest primates of the Gibbon family and can be found in Malaysia and Indonesia. They also are light weight with long arms that they use to swing from branch to branch and tree to tree. Siamangs can be found in single family units that consist of a male, female and their offspring. These pairs stay together throughout life while their offspring leave to start their own families. Typically Siamangs feed on fruit and leaves but occasionally consumer protein from bird eggs, spiders and insects.
In this enclosure was a male, Unkie, and his female counterpart, Eloise. Both Siamangs were born in 1981 and have been together since 1987. In that time Eloise has given birth to 7 offspring. While observing I noticed that they Siamangs were not swinging from trees, but sitting on the ground. Each individual could be seen picking through the scrubs and grass, and every now and then feeding on it. One siamang (who I believed to be the female) began to groom herself for a bit before traveling over to her mate to begin grooming him. The grooming lasted only for a couple minutes before both primates continued to pick at the grass. The individual who I believed to be the female moved from her mate to under a fallen log or tree to find shade as the male continued to pick at the scrubs.
Next I looked at the Orangutans, who shared their enclosure with the Siamangs. Orangutans can be found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in southeast Asia. They are the largest arboreal ape in Asia and spend most of their lives in trees. Their diet primarily consists of fruit but they also eat many leaves, flowers, bark, termites, ants and even bird eggs. Orangutan offspring typically stay with the mother for their first eight years, the longest of any great ape.
There are five orangutans in this enclosure; one male named Satu and four females: Indah, Janey, Karen and their newest member Aisha, Indah’s daughter. I only viewed two of the five individuals. A female (either Janey or Karen because there was no baby present) and the male, Satu were both lounging about in the shade. Both orangutans were feeding on branches of leaves, not the scrubs. The camera then closed in on the male who was slowly looking around him and feeding on leaves. At one point he stopped his feeding to look over his shoulder a couple times. A couple minutes later he began to fiddle with a piece of burlap before continuing to feed on the branch.
Although I could not see the exhibit in person, I would say it must have had an adequate amount of space to fit two Siamangs and five Orangutans. Both species of primates were in their species-typical groups engaging in species typical behavior, with the exception of one thing; swinging on trees. Neither the Siamangs, nor the Orangutans, both arboreal primates, could be seen swinging through trees, or anything for that matter. In my observations I found most of the enclosure to be open space with out trees. However, the enclosure did include many rope-like toys that the primates could climb and jump on along with rocks and logs for play and enrichment. Aside from not swinging on the ropes, both primates showed very species-typical behavior, such as grooming and foraging for food.
In watching the live feeds I also came across sections on the website that offer important information on conservation. It did not only offer a general overview, but gave specific conservation tips for each primate. For example, when watching the Siamangs some conservation tips included recycling aluminum, glass and paper; three products whose elements come from the soil of the rain forest and the trees of Indonesia. For this reason I would say offering the opportunity to view a live feed of the primates also builds awareness for conservation.
All photos and information found at: animals.sandiegozoo.org