News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
August 19, 2020                                                   

 Photo Captions (photo credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society)

6852: Bornean orangutans—Sophia and 3-year-old Heidi—at Brookfield Zoo’s Tropic World: Asia habitat. Currently, the exhibit is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but the public can still learn about the species on the zoo’s website at

7482, 7510, and 7702: Heidi, a 3-year-old Bornean orangutan at Brookfield Zoo. Currently, guests are not able to see her and the other primates in the zoo’s Tropic World habitat due to the pandemic. However, the public can go to to learn about orangutans and learn how they can help this critically endangered species.

7620: Orangutans—Ben and 3-year-old Heidi—at Brookfield Zoo’s Tropic World: Asia habitat. Although the exhibit is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, guests can go to the zoo’s website at to learn about orangutans and learn how they can help this critically endangered species.

7949: Brunei, an orangutan at Brookfield Zoo.

Brookfield Zoo Raises Awareness of Decreasing Orangutan Population
August 19 is World Orangutan Day

Brookfield, IL – Today, August 19, Brookfield Zoo is participating in World Orangutan Day—a day to recognize and bring awareness about the plight of one of the most iconic and critically endangered species that inhabits the rain-forest islands of Borneo and Sumatra in Southeast Asia.

Although guests are not able to see the orangutans at the zoo’s Tropic World habitat due to indoor buildings being temporarily closed at this time because of the pandemic, Brookfield Zoo is encouraging primate-lovers of all ages to swing on over to its website at to learn how they can make a difference. The web page also features craft activities, including creating an orangutan mask out of recycled cardboard or a selfie photo booth. Kids can then share their orangutan-themed creations on the zoo’s social media channels with the hashtag #iheartorangutan and #brookfieldzoo.

Orangutans' dependence on an arboreal lifestyle makes them very susceptible to habitat disruption. Prior to clear-cutting forests for extensive agricultural development—notably for palm oil plantations—companies burn the land. Many of these planned fires spread wildly with catastrophic effects of orangutans dying because they are trapped in the forest’s canopy. Those animals able to escape end up in villages or on the plantations. In addition to habitat loss and fragmentation due to the palm oil industry, threats to the species include hunting, the illegal pet trade, and climate change. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Bornean orangutan population has declined 64 percent between 1973 and 2010, and predicts the species will suffer an overall total population decrease of 86 percent from 1950 to 2025.

However, there are ways that people can make a difference and help orangutans just by making simple changes in their daily lives. Palm oil is an ingredient in baked goods, candies, and other consumer products—found in one out of 10 supermarket items. Many manufacturers favor palm oil because it is low in trans-fat and allows them to label their products “no trans-fat” in order to appeal to increasingly health-conscious consumers. Brookfield Zoo has partnered with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to promote orangutan-friendly choices. You can help keep wild orangutans and their habitats healthy, by following the recommendations of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and choosing products containing palm oil certified as sustainable by the Round table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The RSPO ensures palm oil is harvested in a way that reduces CO2 emissions, does not harm wildlife or the environment and guarantees workers and their families have a living wage. The link to a list of recommended products is listed on

Those interested in helping care for the orangutans at Brookfield Zoo can contribute to the Animal Adoption program. For $35, a recipient receives the Basic Package, which includes a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph of an orangutan, a personalized certificate of adoption, an orangutan, and an Animal Adoption program decal,. To purchase a package, visit

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About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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