For this week I watched the live feed of the orangutans and siamangs at the San Diego zoo. The enclosure for them seemed quite large; the camera was zoomed in on these man-made metal play sets. They looked like trees made out of pipes with ropes and hammocks hanging from their “branches”. The enclosure was outdoors so the inhabitants could enjoy the sun and fresh air. Real trees also surrounded it so they had a forest-like atmosphere. I do not think they had any real trees in their area. The camera was operated by someone so it was almost always zoomed in on one of the inhabitants. While I was watching the main subject of interest was an adult female orangutan named Indah carrying her daughter Aisha. Indah was in one of the man-made trees for the majority of the time I watched her. She was also always munching on vegetation, so I am assuming it is constantly provided to them. Aisha was always attached ventrally to her mother and sat and ate vegetation with Indah. I was lucky enough to witness one of their feeding times. They got thrown various vegetables like cabbage and lettuce. I only saw one other orangutan with Indah and Aisha at this time so I am assuming there is just the three of them in the enclosure.
Overall, I feel like this is one of the better zoo environments I have seen. The enclosure seemed plenty spacious and stimulating. It provided them with space to move and get away if they desired. It also has the tree-like structures to encourage climbing. I did not witness any stereotypical behavior such as pacing, regurgitating food and hair plucking. They all seemed to be exhibiting normal behaviors. The orangutans that I could see spent most if their time relaxing in the structures and eating food.
I think this particular habitat is sufficient for the animals, and it is one of the most accommodating ones I have seen; however it is still a relatively small area for the orangutans to be living for their entire lives. As far as education and conservation, I think this enclosure is a good way to see real orangutans and teach people about them, but I personally feel that the wild is always the best place for them. Aisha is still an infant so she was born recently. That being the case the orangutans appear to be doing well in captivity. I just think that it will be nearly impossible to release captive born species back into the wild, especially ones that grow up in environments like this. This is one of the better zoo environments and I still feel like they deserve so much more.
The second live feed I watched was of golden lion tamarins at the Atlanta zoo. Their enclosure was much different. The camera was stationed and didn’t move around like the previous one, so various tamarins would leap in and out of view. From what I could see, their enclosure was fairly small and indoors. It had foliage painted on the walls to make it look like a jungle. I feel like this effect was more for the visitors than it was the tamarins. In the view of the camera you can see a large tree branch that appears to be real. The branch also had a small bowl attached to it, which I am assuming contained food. This enclosure seems less suitable to me because I feel that it is too small. I can’t see the entire enclosure so it may be bigger but from what I can see it is fairly small. The tamarins were playing with each other and running around. I didn’t see any unusual behavior so they all seemed to be thriving. That being said I think that they would benefit from more space and actually living outdoors among real foliage, or better yet in the wild.