Perth Zoo has continued its world leading program for orangutans releasing another critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan born at Perth Zoo into a protected rainforest in Indonesia.

‘Nyaru’ an eight year old male orangutan was released into the Bukit Tigapuluh eco-system on 2 August 2016, after spending 12 weeks at a Perth Zoo funded sanctuary to acclimatise to the Sumatran environment.

Primate Supervisor, Holly Thompson, who helped release Nyaru into the wild, said: “After years of preparation and the involvement of many people, it was a perfect orangutan release.”

“It was amazing to watch an animal I have known since birth navigate the jungle canopy. His natural skills and the skills we had taught him before leaving the Zoo enabled him to explore and settle into his new world.”

“We are incredibly proud that we are the only zoo in the world releasing Sumatran Orangutans into the wild in partnership with the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Indonesian Government.”

Nyaru was released into a protected area at Bukit Tigapuluh where orphaned orangutans or those who have been rescued from the illegal pet trade have been released to establish a permanent, sustainable wild population.

“We had hoped that Nyaru would buddy up with two young males in the area, but he was much more interested in a female orangutan who was in the area.”

“The ultimate goal for Nyaru is that he fully adjusts to life in the forest and ultimately fathers young. Judging by his strong interest in this female, we have high hopes he’ll do us proud.”

Perth Zoo staff remain at Bukit Tigapuluh to help monitor Nyaru and have reported that the he is travelling and eating well, building a nest at night and continues to encounter other orangutans.

Nyaru was fitted with a radio transmitter which was implanted prior to his release. He will be tracked for up to two years through the dense terrain by Frankfurt Zoological Society biologists.

The orangutan release program run by the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Indonesian Government has released more than 160 ex-pet trade and orphaned orangutans into Bukit Tigapuluh since 2003. Donations to Perth Zoo help fund the program as well as supporting community education and wildlife protection units which patrol this unique part of the world. Bukit Tigapuluh is a place of rich biodiversity, including the critically endangered Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran Tiger.

“Just $30 provides a pair of boots for a tracker following an orangutan or a member of a wildlife patrol protecting the area. We urge everyone to help us to support orang-utans and Bukit Tigapuluh” said Holly.

Listed as critically endangered, it is estimated that as few as 6500 Sumatran Orangutans remain in the wild. Main threats include habitat loss due to rubber and unsustainable palm oil plantations and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.

Fact Sheet
  • Perth Zoo is the only zoo in the world releasing Sumatran Orangutan into the wild;
  • Nyaru is the third orangutan to be released by Perth Zoo;
  • ‘Temara’ made world history in 2006 being the first zoo-born Sumatran Orangutan to be released into the wild. She was tracked for three years whilst she settled into the jungle;
  • Male, ‘Semeru’ was released in 2011 but died from a snake bite in 2013;
  • Before being released the orangutans undertake ‘Jungle School’. The lessons they need for wild success include:
    • Stay in the Trees (arborealism)
    • Getting Along (socialisation)
    • Find Food & Water (foraging)
    • Know Your Neighbourhood (orientation)
    • Make a Nest (nesting skills)
  • To transport Nyaru to Bukit Tigapuluh involved two flights and two road convoys into the protected jungle;
  • Nyaru spent 12 weeks acclimatising to the environment and to local foods at the sanctuary run by the Frankfurt Zoological Society at Bukit Tigapuluh;
  • Perth Zoo supports orangutan conservation through money raised via public donations and fundraising. This funds the rehabilitation and release of ex-pet trade and orphaned orang-utans and also protects the land where the animals are released through wildlife monitoring, research, wildlife protection units; mobile community education units and Sumatran Elephant / human conflict mitigation programs;
  • Perth Zoo’s ongoing fundraising and community conservation program has raised more than $2.7 million dollars since it began in 2007. The purchase of Zoo Calendars, animal paw prints, elephant paintings, donations and behind the scenes animal encounters contribute to helping the animals living in the Bukit Tigapuluh region;
  • Australians can also help Sumatran Orangutans by supporting the Don’t Palm Us Off campaign which advocates for a future where palm oil is clearly labelled and where any palm oil imported into Australia is RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) – produced in a way that aims to protect the last remaining habitat for wildlife and preserve livelihoods. More information at:

Media Contact: Danielle Henry, Perth Zoo Media Manager
Ph: 08 9474 0383, M: 0438 950 643