At 36 years old, Azy may be middle-aged for an orang, but he’s still a hunk. “The female orangutans adore him,” Shumaker says of the 250-pound specimen. “Even we can see that he’s a gorgeous adult male.”
She may not be the biggest female at the Center, but with an especially assertive personality, she’s the dominant one. As such, she does her best to monopolize Azy’s time. And she has adopted Rocky, who needed the help.
Like many of the animals in the exhibit, this 9-year-old male came from the entertainment industry. But Rocky was particularly prolific. “If you saw an orangutan on television in the last few years,” Shumaker says, “it was Rocky.” Even so, the ape didn’t know how to relate to his own kind until Knobi showed him how.
The long-haired Katy is a striking 5-foot-tall female who also has a rare talent: She can whistle. She is Rocky’s biological mother, but because the two were separated at birth, they appear to know each other only as friends.
In what sounds like an episode of The Biggest Loser, Lucy weighed almost double the healthy 130 pounds for a female when she arrived here three years ago. “She couldn’t climb,” Shumaker recalls. “She couldn’t really even walk.” After dropping 100 pounds, she now swings around freely, the envy of any gymnast.
This adult male spent his formative years on television making people laugh, but the character did not match the actor’s personality. Charly is timid, and having spent almost no time with other orangs, he’ll have to be introduced slowly.
One of the only orangutans to come from another zoo, Basan is 12 years old and therefore should already be incompatible with the other adult males. But he’s a late bloomer, and the staff is hopeful he will be able to mesh with Rocky for a few more years.
A virtual unknown, Nicky arrived this winter, and the staff have been getting to know her. Although the Center is maxed out in terms of adult males, it can accommodate a few more females like her—as well as babies of both genders.
Photos courtesy Indianapolis Zoo
This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.