Merah the orangutan turns 50 at St. Louis Zoo

ST. LOUIS – It’s the big 5-0 for one orangutan at the St. Louis Zoo!

The zoo is throwing a big party for Merah, who turned half-a-century Monday.

Merah. (Source: JoEllen Toler Saint Louis Zoo)

Merah, a Sumatran orangutan, was born at a zoo in the Netherlands. She came to the St. Louis Zoo in 1992 from the Miami Metro Zoo. She lives in the Fragile Forest exhibit at the zoo with her two daughters—4-year-old Ginger and 14-year-old Rubih—and their father, Cinta. Merah has a son, Sugriwa, that lives at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Merah gave birth to Ginger in 2014 at the age 45, becoming the oldest Sumatran orangutan in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Orangutan Species Survival Plan to give birth.

On average, female Sumatran orangutans live to be 44 to 53 years old in the wild.

The zoo is inviting zoo-goers to help celebrate Merah's birthday with a special event on June 1, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  The event will feature special enrichment activities for the orangutans and giving visitors a chance to meet staffers to learn about orangutans and conservation.

According to the zoo, the three orangutan species—Bornean, Sumatran, and Tapanuli—are classified as critically endangered due to an alarming rate of habitat loss. There are fewer than 125,000 orangutans remaining in the wild and they could be extinct within a decade.

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