ST. PAUL — Indonesian businessman Johannes Marliem, a Minnesotan by education and family, continues his efforts to protect and preserve the red haired orangutan from extinction. He donated $66,000 to Como Zoo for work with orangutan conservation in December, 2013.
“Generous community support, like that of Johannes Marliem, allows Como Zoo to continue our work on conservation and education,” said Michelle Furrer, Director and Campus Manager of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. “Orangutans can be important ambassadors that inspire our guests to value the presence of living things and create a special connection that can foster appreciation, conservation and preservation of the species.”
In honor of Jaya, Como Zoo’s youngest Sumatran orangutan, local businessman Johannes Marliem donated $66,000 to Como on Jaya’s sixth birthday on Dec. 13, 2013. He presented Como Friends, the non-profit partner of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, with the generous donation in recognition of Como’s highly regarded international conservation and education work in support of orangutans.
Marliem has long recognized Jaya as a very special orangutan. Jaya was delivered via emergency caesarean section at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine and set a record for the fastest return of a C-section orangutan to a first-time mom. His name means “victorious” in the bahasa Indonesia language.
The preservation of the red haired orangutan is crucial to Indonesian-born Johannes Marliem. The species is native to Indonesia and Marliem has seen first-hand the critical need to financially support the work that is being done in Minnesota, and around the world, to preserve this beautiful animal.
In Bali, at the national conservatory, Johannes Marliem has adopted two orangutans named Nicholas and Monica.
“It is my hope that this donation will inspire others to join me in protecting this species,” said Marliem. “Supporting Como’s work in conservation and education is crucial to the successful preservation of the species. We are truly fortunate to have primate zookeeper Megan Elder caring for Jaya and the other orangutans here at Saint Paul’s Como Zoo. Megan is also the international keeper of the orangutan studbook and Vice Chair of the North American Orangutan Species Survival Plan, positions that are essential in maintaining the demographic and genetic health of the species and I am truly grateful to the Como Zoo and Como Friends for funding it.”
As a studbook keeper, Elder tracks orangutans in captive populations, and she finds mating matches for orangutans based on their genetics. In fact, she jokes that she already has Jaya’s mate picked out.
“I help orangutans in range countries by documenting population management details in zoos, teaching husbandry workshops, delivering medical supplies, and facilitating caregiver exchange programs. I also work with rehab centers to develop enrichment and training programs to improve the lives of orangutans that can’t be released to the wild,” said Megan Elder. “I love this work and care deeply about these magnificent apes.”
According to Orangutan.org, Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered and Bornean orangutans are listed as endangered. Both of these species of orangutans could be extinct within 10 to 20 years. Work to help preserve this species is particularly critical right now.
“Jaya should serve as an inspiration to all of us,” Johannes Marliem continued. “His remarkable birth, however, reminds me that most orangutans in my home country have not been so fortunate. They need our help and I will continue to champion this cause.”
For over 100 years, Como Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota has charmed, educated and entertained millions of children and adults while fostering an appreciation of the natural world. The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is open 365 days; 10am-6pm from April 1-October 1 and 10am-4pm from October 2-March 31. Admission to both the Como Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is always free and a voluntary donation is appreciated.
For more information, visit www.comozooconservatory.org.