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Orangutan Alex

Posted July 2019

The Milwaukee County Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of a female orangutan, Alexandra, who will be on exhibit in the Primates of the World building. Also known as Alex, she is a 36-year-old orangutan arriving to the Zoo from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden as a companion for 37-year-old resident male orangutan, Tommy. She was at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo for about 10 years prior.

Alex was recommended to be Tommy’s companion by the Orangutan Species Survival Plan® (SSP). This decision came after Tommy’s former companion, Rayma, moved to the Phoenix Zoo last September to join male orangutan Daniel. Zookeepers comment that Tommy and Alex’s introduction is progressing slowly, but smoothly. Fun fact: Alex was actually born in Wisconsin at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison!

Orangutan Alex

Alex seems to be adjusting well to her new home at the Zoo. Zookeepers from the Cincinnati Zoo comment that she loves to keep busy, and especially enjoys playing with craft paper and water, such as getting misted with the hose, sprinklers, or playing with bubble bath. They also mentioned that she seems to enjoy interacting with zookeepers and will sometimes get upset if another orangutan is getting more attention. Alex’s new zookeepers at the Zoo have enjoyed getting to know her, and say she seems “very mellow and sweet.”

She seems to like eating leafy greens, carrots, pineapple, and a variety of flavors of juice. Zookeepers are giving her lots of different types of enrichment materials (to encourage her natural behaviors) for her to interact with, and are making every effort to make her feel comfortable.

Orangutans are the largest arboreal animals in the world and need large areas of habitat to survive. However, their habitat is undergoing deforestation for farmland, palm oil plantations, and urban development. The greatest threat is the conversion of orangutan habitat to palm oil plantations, as the plantations are quickly expanding to meet demands for palm oil for food, cosmetics, and toiletries. For more information and how you can help, visit redapes.org.