Wellington Zoo Primate Keeper Jacqui Hooper is taking advantage of the Zoo’s conservation leave to head to Sumatra to spend time with wild Orangutans.
Jacqui will embark on an expedition lead by Amy Robbins, Head of Primates at Auckland Zoo, to join the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project on the ground in Sumatra. The group have been raising money to adopt and secure the release of one of the Orangutans in the sanctuary to a nearby protected forest.
‘Orangutan Haven is one of the project’s sanctuaries, and we’ll visit the Orangutans they’re caring for, and learn all about their great ape release programme,’ says Jacqui, who has years of expertise in primate husbandry.
‘From there, we’ll spend a week in the forest tracking previously released Orangutans to find evidence of how they’re using the forest.’
‘Going to Sumatra will give me first-hand experience of the impact of the slash and burn agriculture taking place to make way for unsustainable palm plantations. I’m a passionate supporter of Unmask Palm Oil, one of Wellington Zoo’s conservation partners. This experience will highlight how crucial it is for us in New Zealand to be able to make informed choices about what we buy, and we can’t do this until palm oil is clearly labelled.’
All permanent staff members at Wellington Zoo are entitled to one week of conservation leave each year so they can work on projects that will help to save animals in the wild.
‘It’s an amazing opportunity that Wellington Zoo gives our staff the opportunity conservation leave, so we can do more for animals and the environment and help save animals in the wild,’ says Jacqui.