A Wonderful Transformation – Radcliffe

Radcliffe 1st day  This is Radcliffe when he arrived at the Center for Great Apes in Florida.  He was too thin and had very little hair.  Obviously, he was not well physically nor psychologically.

Radcliffe was born on February 18, 1979 in a zoo in Ohio.  Radcliffe was unlucky in that he is a cross between a Bornean orangutan and a Sumatran orangutan.  This fact probably was why he was sold to a circus trainer as a baby. 

Thus began his entertainment career.  Yes, he was a television personality and he also had to perform for small traveling circuses during his early years (when he should have been with his mother).

You’ll NEVER guess what happened?  Of course, Radcliffe became too large for the trainers to handle safely.  He was sold to another zoo in New York and then to a roadside attraction in Florida.  He was almost to his final and best home he could imagine.

The roadside attraction closed and thankfully the Center for Great Apes was able to rescue him from his years in small cages.

Radcliffe up high  Radcliffe now gets to climb high in his sanctuary home.

Radcliffe up high 2  He lives with another orangutan named Bam Bam.

And, using the wonderful Boswell Walk-About Chute System he visits all of his other orangutan friends.

Center for Great Apes tunnel system

Radcliffe with enrichment  Radcliffe loves to play with all the enrichment items the center provides for him.  The center makes sure he gets three enrichments a day to keep his curious mind busy.  He really likes bubbles in his water and rags so he can wash down the toys, shelves and walls of his nighthouse.

Radcliffe 12 months  This is what Radcliffe looked like after 12 months at the center.  He not only looked better but he felt better.

Radcliffe started out life not so lucky since he was not pure Bornean nor pure Sumatran.  But if he could talk now he would say how thankful he is a cross between both types of orangutans because it brought him to the Center for Great Apes his final and best home.

What can you do for Radcliffe?  Donate enrichment items to the center.  Check out their Wish List for items you can donate.

You can send your donations to:  Center for Great Apes, Box 488, Wauchula, Florida 33873

If you want to learn more about how you can help Radcliffe and the other orangutans and chimps that the center provides permanent homes to, contact them: http://www.prime-apes.org/html/contact.html


Retired Movie Star – Geri the Orangutan

Center for Great Apes - Geri  Geri was born September 13, 1989 to be a movie star.  But like all other orangutans in the movie business she soon became to big to work with and at age 15 she was fortunate enough to find a home at the Center for Great Apes which was founded in 1993 by Patti Ragan.

Geri was worked in many commercials and films such as The Flintstones until her retirement and her eventual move to the Center for Great Apes in Florida in December 2004.  I say she was worked, not that she worked, because when you work you normally are paid for your time.  Geri was never paid for her time and even now does not get any support from her previous owners that exploited her when she was a baby.

She was fortunate in the fact that she came to the sanctuary with a good friend, Sammy.  Her and Sammy’s baby, Jam, was snatched from her as soon as he was born to be used in the entertainment industry also.  Thankfully, Jam came to live at the same sanctuary just 4 months after she arrived.  She and Jam were introduced to each other gradually and eventually reunited.

Now Geri has the comfort and companionship of all the orangutans at the center (14 in all at this time) as she roams through the tunnels that connect her to the other orangutans enclosures and to the large 34 feet high domed habitat.  While traveling through the tunnels she is able to not only observe and interact with other orangutans but she also can browse like wild orangutans do in the rainforest.

Center for Great Apes tunnel system  The Boswell Walk-About Chute System.

Center for Great Apes Domed Habitat  Huge 34 feet high domed habitat–large enough for adult orangutans to swing and play.

Geri is very observant and always thinking.  She is very relaxed and enjoys both playing by herself or with the other apes.

The orangutans at the center receive at least 3 enrichment items a day to keep their curious minds busy.  And one of Geri’s favorite enrichment times is when they are given old clothes to play with and she can put on gardening gloves.

Geri - Center for Great Apes  Geri must agree that cleanlinest is next to godliness because she loves to clean.  She is very concerned about having a clean home and gathers her dishes, washes them and hands them and her blankets to the caregivers.

Geri can never be released into the wild like the orangutans on Orangutan Island, but Patti and the rest of the staff at the Center for Great Apes are giving her the best living arrangements possible for the rest of her life where she will never be bred or observed by the general public as an attraction.

Why not let Geri know how much you love her by sending a donation to the Center for Great Apes?  They accept enrichment items and have a Wish List you can use to decide what to donate.  Of course, they will always accept monetary donations also. 

Geri  Geri would like to encourage you to send some gardening gloves!

Kind Regards,

April and Kesi

Kesi on ground

Orangutans in the Entertainment Industry

Sammy Center for the Great Apes  I found a site on the web called the Center for Great Apes.  It is a sanctuary for orangutans and other apes located in Flordia.  It was founded in 1993 by Patti Ragan and provides a permanent sanctuary for the apes in a safe and enriching environment.  They say they are the only nonprofit sanctuary in North America dedicated to the permanent care of orangutans.  I talked to Patti and she said she met Lone Dröscher Nielsen before she started the Nyaru Menteng Center.

Although the orangutans here are very fortunate to live in this sanctuary they will never be released into the wild.  Many of them were born in captivity specifically to be used in Hollywood for entertainment purposes.  And, like everything else in Hollywood, when they no longer could be used for entertainment purposes they were put aside*.  Usually in small cages.  Where they had to live until someone finally found a home for them in Florida at the sanctuary.

What I like about center is they do not allow the public in to “look” at the orangutans and they do not breed these orangutans.

The orangutans at the center need support just as the ones in Borneo do.  I did not see where you could adopt one but there is a great page of items they need that you can send to them at http://www.prime-apes.org/html/needs.html.  Of course, they will always accept monetary donations.

I want to introduce you to the special orangutans living at the center.  The first one I thought you should meet is Sammy.  Sammy was born on December 23, 1989 and began his life as a Miami tourist attraction that was owned by an orangutan breeder.  At the age of 18 months (4-5 years before he should have left his mother) he was sold to a Los Angeles trainer and used in the entertainment industry.

sammy-close-up.jpg  Sammy is a very handsome flanged male.

Do you recognize this movie star?  He was Dunston in the movie Dunston Checks In

Sammy full body The Center for the Great Apes  Of course, when he grew up (as all orangutans do) he was considered too strong and dangerous to work with and placed in a small cage.  Then they used him to breed a female, Geri, and together they had a baby named Jam to be used in the entertainment industry.  Geri arrived with Sammy in December 2004 at the Center for the Great Apes and Jam arrived shortly after in March 2005.

The center provides at least three forms of enrichment everyday to every ape and Sammy loves to paint.

Why not provide the center with canvas and paint brushes for all the apes to use but especially for Sammy?  They accept any size canvas and paint brushes.  http://www.prime-apes.org/html/enrichment.html

Mail your donations to:  Center for the Great Apes, Box 488, Wauchula, Florida 33873

If you wish to contact them before sending your donation you can call:  863-767-8903

Sammy sitting - The Center for the Great Apes  Give these large gentle hands some painting supplies so he is able to use his unending curiosity.

Kind Regards,

April & Kesi

Kesi on ground

*Interestingly, but not surprisingly, after these orangutans are dropped off at the center none of the organizations in Hollywood that made money from their performances help support them in these final years of their life.