PORTLAND, Ore. — There’s just something special about orangutans. The primates are a popular attraction at the Oregon Zoo.
“They have relationships, they take care of their infants, they form bonds. They’re a lot like us and also, they’re really cool. Look at that red hair. You cannot beat it,” said Kate Gilmore, Oregon Zoo Primate Curator.
The Oregon Zoo has an entire orangutan family. There’s dad Bob, mom Kitra and baby Jolene.
“Kitra, this is her first baby. She knew exactly what to do. It’s complete instinct. She caught the baby during the birth and has not let her go ever since,” Gilmore said.
Jolene is the first ape birth at the Oregon Zoo in almost 30 years.
“That’s exciting in and of itself, but even more so, she is a member of a critically endangered species. So, we’re really excited to be part of the conservation effort for Bornean orangutans,” Gilmore said.
The zoo has partnered with conversation efforts in Borneo for the past 15 years. Their work has focused on deforestation reversal, sustainable palm oil plantations and even sending their chief of staff to Borneo to train people there on how to raise orphaned infant orangutans.
“That effort only goes so far. We need to bring the local community in as well and every little effort helps,” Gilmore said. “So, by partnering with local companies here and getting the word out we can do even more for orangutan conservation, right here at home.”
The zoo is partnering with a local winemaker to do just that in honor of Jolene’s first birthday.
While she turns one, the Willamette Valley’s Wine by Joe is marking 20 years in business.
Now through the end of April, Wine by Joe will donate a portion of sales from their Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris to the Oregon Zoo Foundation. You can find their bottles in most local grocery stores.
“It’s our 20th anniversary and it’s cute little Jolene’s first birthday. We thought, what better way than to celebrate our birthday with Jolene’s birthday,” Wine by Joe CEO Sarah Pearson said.
It’s really the perfect Oregon partnership: conservation and wine, saying cheers to Joe and Jolene.
“We really wanted to celebrate the community within the community. Jolene is such a vital part within the zoo and because we’re an agricultural-based business we thought, what better way than to support nature and those efforts that are really working to make them thrive,” Pearson said.
Every bottle offers a little help to animals like Jolene, both at the Oregon Zoo and in the wild in Southeast Asia.
“We are so excited to have an orangutan family here. Bob and Kitra were brought here for a breeding recommendation. They hit it off right away. It took a couple years of trying, but we have Jolene and she’s one year old,” Gilmore said. “And we’re really excited to have them here as a small part in the global effort to save orangutans.”