Honolulu Zoo to keep orangutan
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2004:
HONOLULU–368 days after Orangutan Foundation Inter-national
announced that it would “build a state-of-the-art orangutan sanctuary
at Kualoa Ranch in Oahu, Hawaii, for Rusti,” 24, brought to
Hawaii from the defunct Scotch Plains Zoo in New Jersey in 1997, OFI
founder Birute Galdikas announced a new plan.
Now Rusti is to occupy a 4,000-square-foot exhibit built
around a tall banyan tree near the tortoises at the Honolulu Zoo–the
same zoo that evicted him last year to replace his old habitat with a
lorikeet exhibit, after housing him for six years under what was to
have been only a temporary arrangement until OFI could develop a
sanctuary. OFI is to remain Rusti’s legal custodian.
Pamela Davis and Cathy Goeggel of Animal Rights Hawaii
expressed skepticism that the latest OFI strategy will advance any
farther than the last several.
“It would be lovely to have Rusti stay,” Goegel told ANIMAL
PEOPLE, “if a suitable enclosure can be built. OFI’s track record
makes me wonder if this will happen. $200,000 doesn’t buy much these
days,” she added, noting that the Honolulu Zoo chimp exhibit “cost
over $1 million.”
Both Davis and Goeggel pointed out that the Honolulu city
council was not consulted about the new plan, although the zoo is
city property, and that many legal and political obstacles may lie
“I would feel much more optimistic if OFI had given ownership
of Rusti to the Honolulu Zoo,” Goeggel added.
Honolulu Advertiser staff writer Johnny Brannon pointed out
that Rusti, a sterilized hybrid of the Bornean and Sumatran
orangutan subspecies, “has always had a hard time fitting in. Born
in Seattle, his mother rejected him as an infant. He was bullied by
other orangutans, and was raised by a series of human foster parents
before ending up at the Scotch Plains Zoo,” a for-profit facility
that was closed through the efforts of Marc Jurnove, founder of the
International Society for the Protection of Exotic Animal Kind and
Livestock, Inc., in Plainview, New Jersey.
“Earlier plans called for Rusti to live in a sanctuary with
up to 20 other orangutans, but it was never built,” Brannon
Plans to keep Rusti at the Kualoa Ranch on O’ahu were
eventually dropped under pressure from Jurnove, Animal Rights
Hawaii, and Carroll Cox of Envirowatch, who found his proposed
temporary accommodations inadequate. After the previous OFI failures
to build permanent housing for Rusti, none had faith that any
“temporary” quarters would really be temporary.