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Orangutan Clyde Is Ambassador for Great Ape Awareness

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Clyde, a 315-pound orangutan, studies the oregano he found in his habitat yesterday at the San Diego Zoo.

Herbs were scattered around his exhibit as part of enrichment activities to celebrate Great Ape Awareness Days at the zoo. Enrichment is the term used by zoos to refer to the creation of a stimulating environment that allows animals to make choices and demonstrate species-specific behavior.

San Diego Zoo created Great Ape Awareness Days to increase public awareness about what can be done to save orangutans and the other species of great apes — bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas — from extinction in the wild.

Apart from enrichment activities, the zoo has scheduled Keeper Talks about the apes at the zoo and issues causing population declines in the wild. Topics include the bushmeat crisis, habitat loss due to illegal logging, slash-and-burn farming practices, and the removal of rain forests for palm oil plantations.

Visitors will be told how cellular phone manufacturing has contributed to the widespread demise of gorillas in Central Africa, and how simply recycling old cellular phones can make a difference.

Photo by Ken Bohn,San Diego Zoo.