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December 15, 2004





            The long-awaited home for Rusti the orangutan moved one step closer to completion today (Wednesday, December 15) with a groundbreaking at the site of his planned new enclosure.


            “We are deeply grateful to the generous donors who have thus far stepped forward to enable us to keep Rusti at our Zoo,” said Mayor Jeremy Harris.  “After more than seven years, he will finally have a spacious, new, permanent home.”


            Funds for Rusti’s enclosure have come so far from the Orangutan Foundation International ($200,000), Erin Keck from the Big Island ($100,000) and Rose Helen Vincent ($100,000). 


            The enclosure will be built where the Zoo previously held its elephant encounters.  Construction is expected to begin early next year and should take about five months to complete.  Architect Glenn Mason is designing the orangutan exhibit.


            Male orangutans are normally solitary animals, so keeping Rusti by himself is not a departure from his normal behavior.  Introducing another male may provoke a territorial conflict.  However, it may be possible to acquire a female companion should the enclosure’s night quarters be expanded in the future.


            Rusti is 24 years old and for more than half his life has not had a tree to climb.  The new exhibit will be larger than his previous enclosures, and include a large tree and other climbing structures for him to enjoy.






Wednesday, December 15, 2004

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