Happy Birthday Alan
Friday, May 2, 2014
Sumatran orangutan is the oldest male member of his species in North America
Alan the Sumatran orangutan, a longtime resident of Zoo Atlanta, turns 43 on Saturday, May 3. Alan is the oldest male Sumatran orangutan living in the North American population managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP).
Known for his impressive size, long hair and fondness for shiny objects, Alan is also famous for his frequent long call, a deep booming vocalization used by adult male orangutans to warn other males or to impress females. Despite numerous associations with females over the years, he has produced no offspring to date. Orangutans are considered geriatric after the age of about 35 years.
Zoo Atlanta is home to North America’s largest zoological collection of orangutans, with 13 individuals ranging in age from 7 months to 43 years. Lori Perkins, Vice President of Collections at Zoo Atlanta, is the national chair of the Orangutan SSP, which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse population within accredited North American zoos.
Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered, with fewer than 7,000 individuals believed to remain in the wild. Wild populations have declined drastically in recent years as a result of habitat conversion to palm oil plantations, over-harvesting of timber, and human encroachment. Experts predict that the species could be extinct in the wild within 10 years without targeted conservation efforts.