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Orangutans (Pongo spp.) Fact Sheet: Managed Care


Breeding in Managed Care

  • Since 1985 there has been a moratorium on inter-breeding the two subspecies, P.p. pygmaeus and P.p.abelii due to the possibility that they are separate species.
  • Although solitary in the wild, orangutans often do better in socialized groups while in managed care.
  • Age at first menses and parturition occur much earlier in managed care than in the wild.  71% of females in managed care have given birth by age 12.
  • An ethogram of an orangutan in managed care can be found in Maple (1980).

History of Managed Care

San Diego Zoological Society

  • Ape Cam at the San Diego Zoo. Watch our orangutans and siamangs daily!
  • "Ken Allen" (1971-2000) was a beloved orangutan at the San Diego zoo, infamous for his many escape attempts.
    • Orangutans are known for being cunning in managed care.
      • They often observe human caregivers closely and, when no one is looking, dismantle parts of their enclosure in order to escape.
  • January, 2001, Lauran Debnar (Senior Keeper, San Diego Zoo) began a joint project with the Orangutan Foundation International to release six orangutans raised in managed care, back to the wild, and to assess the viability of old logging concessions as habitat for rehabilitated orangutans.
  • Absolutely Apes opened at the San Diego Zoo in the spring of 2003. Orangutans are exhibited together with siamangs, which coexist with orangutans in the wild, in a naturalistic enclosure.

Live Camera Feeds


an orangutan playing

Energetic Karen takes delight in tumbling on the ground--it's her signature locomotion style.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Birthday Enrichment

Learn how the San Diego Zoo uses enrichment activities to make an orangutan's first birthday extra special.

© San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Debnar, (2002)
Maple, (1980)
Smits et al., (1995)

SDZWA Library Links