PORTLAND, Ore. — Orangutans are just different in some ways. The primates are among the most popular things to see at the Oregon Zoo.
“They have relationships, they take care of their infants, they form bonds. They’re a lot like us and also, they’re really cool. Look at that red hair. You cannot beat it,” said Kate Gilmore, Oregon Zoo Primate Curator.
The Oregon Zoo has a whole family of orangutans. Bob is the dad, Kitra is the mom, and Jolene is the baby.
“Kitra, this is her first baby. She knew exactly what to do. It’s complete instinct. She caught the baby during the birth and has not let her go ever since,” Gilmore said.
The last time an ape was born at the Oregon Zoo was almost 30 years ago.
“That’s exciting in and of itself, but even more so, she is a member of a critically endangered species. So, we’re really excited to be part of the conservation effort for Bornean orangutans,” Gilmore said.
For the past 15 years, the zoo has worked with conservation groups in Borneo. Their work has been focused on stopping deforestation and making palm oil plantations more sustainable.
They even sent their chief of staff to Borneo to teach people there how to care for orangutan babies who were left without parents.
“That effort only goes so far. We need to bring the local community in as well and every little effort helps,” Gilmore said. “So, by partnering with local companies here and getting the word out we can do even more for orangutan conservation, right here at home.”
To celebrate Jolene’s first birthday, the zoo works with a local winemaker to do just that. Wine by Joe in the Willamette Valley celebrates 20 years in business as his daughter turns one.
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Wine by Joe will give a portion of their Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris sales to the Oregon Zoo Foundation from now until the end of April. You can find their bottles in most local grocery stores.
“It’s our 20th anniversary and it’s cute little Jolene’s first birthday. We thought, what better way than to celebrate our birthday with Jolene’s birthday,” Wine by Joe CEO Sarah Pearson said.
Conservation and wine go together like peanut butter and jelly, so cheers to Joe and Jolene!
“We really wanted to celebrate the community within the community. Jolene is such a vital part within the zoo and because we’re an agricultural-based business we thought, what better way than to support nature and those efforts that are really working to make them thrive,” Pearson said.
Every bottle helps a little bit at the Oregon Zoo and in the wild in Southeast Asia, where animals like Jolene live.
“We are so excited to have an orangutan family here. Bob and Kitra were brought here for a breeding recommendation.
They hit it off right away. It took a couple years of trying, but we have Jolene and she’s one year old,” Gilmore said. “And we’re really excited to have them here as a small part in the global effort to save orangutans.”