Kumang Turns 40

October 15, 2017

It’s a very special day here at Seneca Park Zoo as we celebrate the life of our female Bornean orangutan Kumang, who turns 40 today.

Kumang has an interesting history, starting with her birth in 1977 at Bellvue Gardens in Manchester, England…a zoo that was in the process of closing at the time.  She, along with several other orangutans and gorillas, were rescued from the facility by Gordon Mills, the manager of singer Tom Jones.  Gordon had a private zoo with many animals and more than enough space for the new additions.

Kumang’s mother died when Kumang was only 18 months old, and a young keeper named Jeremy Keeling hand-raised her, then integrated her back into the group of orangutans she arrived with.  Jeremy went on to found a primate rescue center called Monkey World, which has rescued hundreds of primates over the years and is still up and running today.

Gordon Mills donated Kumang and several other orangutans to San Diego Zoo when she was 7. She lived there until 1991, when the Orangutan SSP recommended she be sent to Seneca Park Zoo for breeding with a male named Jiggs.  SSP stands for Species Survival Plan, and in short, they promote cooperation among various institutions to ensure the long-term survival of the species in conservation care.

Bornean orangutans are currently listed as critically endangered by IUCN, with the demand for palm oil the main cause of their population’s decline.  You can learn more about palm oil and how you can help by visiting Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s website.

At Seneca Park Zoo, Kumang has given birth to 4 offspring: 2 males (Bandar and Datu) and 2 females (Dara and Bella).  She has been no less than a perfect mother to all of them, and we here at Seneca Park Zoo are so very proud of her and her parenting skills. Bandar and Datu have both been fathers to offspring, magnifying Kumang’s impact to the Species Survival Plan.

Happy birthday Kumang, we wish you many more!

— Brian Sheets, Zoologist