SOURCE: Denver Zoo

January 16, 2015 16:43 ET

Denver Zoo Welcomes Adult Male Orangutan "Bernas"

Visitors Can See Him in Primate Panorama Now

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - January 16, 2015) - Denver Zoo is thrilled to welcome the arrival of a 12-year-old, male Sumatran orangutan, named Bernas (burr-NAHSS). He just arrived from Zoo Atlanta on January 13 under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals.

Visitors can see him now exploring his new home in the Great Apes building in the Zoo's Primate Panorama.

"Bernas" is a name that means "spirited" in Indonesian, though zookeepers describe Bernas as very playful and sweet. They hope he will eventually breed with 26-year-old female orangutan, Nias (NEE-uhss). Nias is currently busy caring for her 4-year-old daughter, Hesty, but soon she will be old enough to be considered independent so Nias could then devote attention to a new baby.

Orangutan means "person of the forest" in the Malay language and the species is among the closest relatives to humans. Physically they are known for their stout bodies, long arms and shaggy, red hair. The orangutans at Denver Zoo can often be seen showing off their arboreal talents, swinging from ropes and trees in their expansive habitats.

Sumatran orangutans are only found on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia. In the wild, they are critically endangered due to habitat loss stemming from logging, mining, forest fires and timber clearing for agriculture, including palm oil plantations, and human settlements. Also, the practice of killing a mother to secure an infant or juvenile for the live animal trade is a common practice. Currently there only about 6,000 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild. Although international efforts are underway to try to protect the remaining orangutans, if current trends continue, orangutans may be extinct in the wild within a decade.

About Denver Zoo: Denver Zoo is the Rocky Mountain region's premiere resource for informal scientific education, serving two million people annually. Home to 4,000 animals representing more than 600 species, the Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which assures the highest standards of animal care.

A leader in green action, Denver Zoo is the greenest zoo in the country and is dedicated to ensuring the safety of the environment in support of all species by attaining the highest environmental standards. Since 1996, Denver Zoo has participated in about 600 animal conservation projects in 62 countries on all seven continents.

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Contact Information

  • Contact: 
    Tiffany Barnhart, APR
    (720) 337-1444

    Sean Andersen-Vie
    (720) 337-1418