Greenville Zoo administrator Jeff Bullock announced today that Mia and Chelsea, the zoo’s Bornean orangutans, are scheduled to be transferred to other zoos at the end of the month as part of the Orangutan Species Survival Program. Mia’s new home will be the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, UT and Chelsea’s new home will be the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, WI. Mia and Chelsea, who have resided at the Greenville Zoo for 13 years, produced one offspring (Bob) but were not recommended to breed again. Instead, it was determined that they would be more valuable to the orangutan population in other locations with other mates.
Mia was born on June 8, 1989 at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, CO. He was transferred to the Henry Vilas Zoo in 1995, and then to the Greenville Zoo in 2003. Chelsea was born on June 6, 1990 at the San Diego Zoo. She was also transferred to the Henry Vilas Zoo in 1995 and arrived at the Greenville Zoo with Mia on June 9, 2003. Baby Bob was born in 2006 and was transferred to the Oregon Zoo in Portland, OR in December 2014 to be paired with a female.
According to Bullock, while it will be difficult to say goodbye to Mia and Chelsea, the zoo’s participation in the Species Survival Program is a key component of its mission to promote conservation efforts and work with other accredited zoos to cooperatively manage captive animal populations for future generations. In fact, Bullock says, the Greenville Zoo is scheduled to receive a pair of Sumatran orangutans this fall, also the result of a recommendation by the Orangutan Species Survival Program. “Bittersweet situations like this come with the territory in our line of work,” said Bullock. “The animals in our care are like family members, so there’s no question that we’ll be sad to see Mia and Chelsea go, but we’re also looking forward to working with and introducing the Sumatran orangutans to zoo guests in the coming months.”
Considered one of the world’s 25 most endangered primates, Sumatran orangutans are found only on the island of Sumatra. Compared to the Bornean species, Sumatran orangutans are thinner and have longer faces, and their hair is longer with a paler red color. In late September/early October, the Greenville Zoo will welcome Kumar, a male Sumatran orangutan from the Oregon Zoo, and Lana, a female Sumatran orangutan from the Cincinnati Zoo. Kumar was born on April 15, 2005 at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX and was transferred to the Oregon Zoo in 2014. Lana and her twin sister Bonnie were born on January 26, 1985 at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, LA. The twins were transferred to the Cincinnati Zoo in 1990.
The Greenville Zoo staff plans to host a farewell event in the coming weeks to give the community an opportunity to say goodbye to Mia and Chelsea. Details will be announced on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/greenvillezoo) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/greenvillezoo).
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