This is Kiko. The oldest male orang-utan (“Person of the Forest”) at the National Zoo in DC.

Male orang-utans have a home range of approximately 11 sq miles. They can travel up to two miles a day in search of food in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. Habitat destruction and — of course — hunting by humans are the main threats to their survival.

I have a great ambivalence towards zoos. I am equally fascinated and troubled by them. As I was watching this fellow stare out at us from his enclosure I admit a deep sadness began to wash over me. He is an amazing creature and I could sit there all day just watching and observing his behavior… even occasionally try to make eye contact with him. But ultimately I couldn’t get past the fact that he’s in a zoo… in Washington DC.

Far from “home.”

Kiko. Adult male orangutan at the National Zoo.

Safe from poachers, but far from free.