CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Animal keeper Tyris Perreira stood yesterday in a new orangutan enclosure where Rusti and Violet will be introduced to each other at the Honolulu Zoo.
Female companion for Rusti is on the way
A gal pal for Rusti the orangutan is expected to arrive at the Honolulu Zoo this morning, according to zoo officials.
Violet, a 139-pound hybrid orangutan, will be accompanied by two zoo keepers from the San Diego Zoo, where she has lived since 1995, as she is transported to the new 8,168-square-foot exhibit that was built for her and Rusti.
The new exhibit consists of two bedrooms equipped with swinging ropes made of intertwined fire hoses. Violet, 28, will be quarantined in one of the rooms for 30 days before Rusti, 25, joins her.
Honolulu Zoo Director Ken Redman said they will monitor Violet before she is allowed to be viewed by the public.
The new exhibit is more than 20 times larger than Rusti's current enclosure, where he has lived since arriving in 1997.
It is going to be different for Rusti to be in an open-sky exhibit, said animal keeper Tyris Perreira, who has cared for the 313-pound animal since his arrival.
His owner, the Orangutan Foundation International, rescued Rusti from a New Jersey roadside zoo. The nonprofit organization faced several roadblocks in its search for a permanent home for Rusti. In 2004, former Mayor Jeremy Harris announced that the orangutan would stay at the Honolulu Zoo.
Attached to the bedrooms is a "day room" equipped with more swinging ropes and a hammock. The bedrooms and day room are divided by a fence that will allow Rusti and Violet to slowly adjust to one other.
"Knowing him, he might ignore her at first, or he might be interested," Perreira said. He has lived alone for quite a while, she added.
The day room leads to a spacious open-sky, domelike cage that includes 11 wooden climbing poles ranging from 15 to 20 feet.
About 70 percent of a banyan tree, which the cage was built around, was trimmed down to prevent the orangutans from climbing out, Perreira said.
The cost of the exhibit, which was built by Reedesign Builders Inc., is estimated at $665,000.
Like, Rusti, Violet is half Sumatran and half Bornean. According to the Honolulu Zoo Web site, Violet likes fresh oranges, enjoys playing hide-and-seek and likes to socialize. She was the star student in her training program at the San Diego Zoo, according to the site.
Redman said the two orangutans will not have offspring because they do not allow hybrids to reproduce.
Transportation costs for Violet from Los Angeles to Honolulu is estimated at $4,000 to $5,000.
In October the Honolulu Zoo Society collected $110,000 at a sold-out dinner fundraiser for the new exhibit. There has been overwhelming support for Rusti, said event chairwoman Barbara Thacker.
"Rusti has obviously captivated the community. We are very, very pleased," Thacker said.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chrissie, a Sumatran tiger, snoozed yesterday as she waited to be let out of her cage.
Zoo hopes 2 endangered tigers will breed
The Honolulu Zoo recently welcomed two new endangered Sumatran tigers that officials hope will breed by next year.
Berani and Chrissie were transported to Honolulu almost two weeks ago from the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in Indiana.
Both join Djelita, a 220-pound Sumatran tiger who was spayed. Djelita has so many relatives in the zoo community, said Honolulu Zoo Director Ken Redman, adding, "We try not to reproduce those who have a lot of genetic representation."
A committee decided to bring in two new breeding tigers after Pandji, a male Sumatran tiger, died of kidney failure at the zoo earlier this year.
Berani and Chrissie, who are under quarantine at the exhibit, have three cubs that are almost 2 years old. The cubs remained at the Indiana zoo, Redman said.
Animal keeper Tyris Perreira described Berani, a 213-pound tiger, as mellow while Chrissie, a 180-pound tiger, is playful. Both are 6 years old and have a diet that consist of meat chunks and chicken.
Perreira said the tigers have acclimated to their new environment with ease and enjoy playing with coconuts. One of three coconuts placed near their living quarters was partially shredded after Chrissie gnawed on it.
Costs for the zoo to transport the tigers from Indiana to Honolulu was estimated at $10,000.