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Racine Zoo orangutan, Max turns 27 years old

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max birthday

RACINE (WITI)  – The staff at the Racine Zoological Society is going bananas for its birthday boy Max, a hybrid orangutan, who turned 27 years old on Wednesday, March 6th.

Zoo staff and guests watched as Max was presented with a special layer cake made from fruits, primate biscuits, and veggies. The layers were frozen and included a few extra goodies such as raisins, baby food, and canned pumpkin. Max also received numerous gifts including chalk, crayons, coloring books, and paint.

Guests are encouraged to visit Max this month and share their birthday wishes.

Max has lived at the Racine Zoo since 1986 with his older half-sister, Jenny, making them the Zoo’s longest and most well-known residents. As part of his daily enrichment, Primary Primate Specialist Crystal Champeau-Williams designs training and activities to keep both Max and Jenny engaged and active.

“The most rewarding part of my job is developing training and enrichment programs that keep Max and Jenny mentally sharp and stimulated,” said Champeau-Williams. “All our primates have their own unique personalities but Max is certainly one of my favorites.”

Some of Max’s favorite activities include swinging on the fire hoses within his exhibit, pushing and throwing barrels, playing with sheets and blankets, using his tablet computer, and brushing his teeth.

Both Max and Jenny are hybrid orangutans, a cross between two species of orangutans; the Bornean and the Sumatran.

“Orangutan habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate to make room for palm oil plantations,” said Jay R. Christie, president and CEO of the Racine Zoological Society. “Wild orangutans are critically endangered and biologists predict the species will disappear from the wild within our lifetime if action is not taken,” Christie adds.

While there are several organizations that rehabilitate orangutans, few original forest areas remain in which they can be released.

For more information about conservation initiatives and programs trying to save the orangutan, visit Orangutan Foundation International at http://www.orangutan.org/ .