43 year old Toba. Photo by Gillian Lang

The Oklahoma City Zoo has had a love affair with great apes including orangutans for several decades. In 1996 the Great Escape was created to engage our animals and our guests in naturalistic settings and enrichment opportunities. Many orangutans have lived at the zoo throughout the years but for now we have 2 resident orangs. Toba is a 43 year old ruff/tuff but endearing old lady. She uses her wisdom to teach and control 12 year old Elok. Elok is a beloved character that appears to love to engage our guests through the viewing glass front. Elok’s image was created by one of the zoo’s talented graphic artists and is currently the logo for the Orangutan SSP.

12 year old Elok. Photo by Gillian Lang.

The palm oil issue is foremost in our minds when it comes to orangutans and how it is affecting Toba and Elok’ s wild counterparts. We include this message in keeper chats, classrooms and any other opportunity that presents itself. The Palm Oil Crisis film produced by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo plays in our interpretation center. We have created our own interactive graphic where children and their parents can read a brief message about palm oil and how it affects many animals and then open the doors of our palm tree trunk to see those animals. For the 6th consecutive year our team in conjunction with our Zoological Society has hosted an “April Event” a fundraiser dinner, Behind the Scenes Tour and presentation, where all proceeds go to foundations helping wild orangutans in Sumatra. Lastly the zoo has recently purchased Gabriella Romani’s children’s book about Orangutans. Our educators are also using this book in our classrooms.