Orangutan Caring Week 2022

The theme of Orangutan Caring Week this year is “Orangutan Superheroes Don’t Wear Capes” and that couldn’t be truer for our
primate keepers. These Orangutan Superheroes work every day to make sure that Michael, Bess, Rayma and Wgasa receive the best B.E. and care possible; coming up with new, fun, and creative ways to challenge these smart creatures and help them show you all what it
means to be an orangutan!

Attaching Sign

Meet the Orangutans

Bess Orangutan


Bess was born at the Phoenix Zoo in March of 1979. She likes to lay on the top tiers of the towers and look out over her kingdom. You can often find her watching people at the cave window covered with a palm frond or blanket.

Micheal Orangutan


Michael is Bess’s companion. He has been at the Phoenix Zoo since October of 2000. His favorite behavioral enrichment (BE) items are blankets/sheets, browse, palm fronds and anything he can eat. He enjoys scribbling with chalk and can often times be seen with it on his face. Michael enjoys spending his days laying on his back in exhibit and holding his toes while watching other orangutans and the public.

Rayma Orangutan


Rayma has been at the Phoenix Zoo since April of 2019. She is a ball of energy and has a very fun personality. She likes to bring her spool over for feedings and sit on it while interacting with her keepers. She enjoys the company of Wgasa and can sometimes be seen grabbing his hand to make sure he is following her.



Wgasa is Rayma’s companion. He came to us from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium at the end of April and is the newest orangutan at the Zoo! He enjoys spending his days being close to Rayma, laying under tubs while eating and sitting in front of the a/c unit with a blanket or box over him.


Orangutan Diet

What do Bornean orangutans eat in the wild? How does that differ from their diet here at the Phoenix Zoo?
Keep reading to find out!
In the wild, orangutans are primarily frugivores, meaning they eat mostly fruits. During the times that fruits are abundant, it can make up as much as 90% of their diet. They have been known to eat hundreds of different types of fruit and plant species with some of their favorites being durian, figs, lychees, jackfruit and breadfruit.
To balance out their diets, orangutans also eat leaves, bark, flowers, insects, nuts and seeds to balance out their diets. Orangutans are vital to the rainforest because they are seed dispersers. The seeds from the fruits they eat help to regenerate the forests once they pass through an orangutan’s digestive system.
Here at the Zoo, our Bornean orangutans’ diet consists of fruits, vegetables, different kinds of primate biscuits, romaine/other leafy greens and browse. They get a daily rotation of fruits and vegetables with some of their favorite foods being tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, yam, corn, oranges, bananas, pears and berries. The different primate biscuits they get are formulated to be nutritionally balanced to make sure they get all the nutrients their bodies need every day. They also receive daily browse, which can consist of leafy branches, bark and flowering plants, as well as a variety of nuts and seeds throughout the month.


Behavioral Enrichment (B.E. for short) is a vital part of our orangutans’ day. In the wild, an animal’s day may consist of foraging for food, finding shelter, avoiding predators, etc. But at the Zoo, they have all the food and shelter they could want, so they need something else to do! The goal of B.E. is to not only occupy their time,
but also aid in exhibiting some of those natural behaviors you would see in the wild.
Orangutans spend the majority of their time in the trees, with a majority of their day dedicated to foraging for fruit and other favored items. With their long arms,
they are able to swing from branch to branch to locate the best fruit among the treetops.
For the Orangutan Caring Week B.E., primate keepers focused on encouraging a foraging behavior by dispersing Bornean orangutans Michael, Bess, Rayma and Wgasa’s diet items throughout their enclosure and hiding fun treats within different B.E. items for them to discover as they investigated their surroundings. It’s safe to say that
our orangutans enjoyed the celebration!