Perth Zoo orangutan Nyaru begins journey to Sumatran jungle

Nyaru (8) left Perth Zoo for the Sumatran jungle this month.
Nyaru (8) left Perth Zoo for the Sumatran jungle this month.

AFTER eight years of preparing for the big day, Perth Zoo’s orangutan Nyaru has begun his journey to the Sumatran jungle.

Eight year-old male Nyaru departed on his journey back to protected rainforest this month with a Perth Zoo veterinarian and zookeepers.

He will spend some weeks adjusting to his new surroundings before being released into the jungle.

“We are incredibly proud that we are the only zoo in the world releasing Sumatran Orangutans into the wild, a program run by the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Indonesian Government,” Perth Zoo chief executive Susan Hunt said.

“Nyaru has been prepared since birth for this momentous occasion and we are confident he has the skills for wild success.”

Before embarking on the journey, Nyaru underwent pre-release preparation with the Perth Zoo’s Jungle School program.

The program included the introduction of Indonesian fruits to his diet, enrichment items to sharpen his foraging skills and access to a large fig tree to increase fitness and hone in climbing and nest making skills.

Despite being a solitary species, Nyaru also spent time with other orangutans at the zoo before his release.

“This helps develop appropriate social behaviour as he will encounter unknown orangutans when travelling through the jungle,” Ms Hunt said.

“Nyaru has also been fitted with a radio transmitter implant which will help trackers monitor him in the dense terrain of Bukit Tigapuluh, in Sumatra.”

Ms Hunt said the ultimate goal was for Nyaru to sire offspring and help repopulate the jungle with the species.

It is estimated that as few as 6500 Sumatran orangutans are left in the wild with main threats including loss of habitat due to rubber and palm oil plantations, and poaching for illegal wildlife trade. .