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by Krystal Choate, staff writer

The Honolulu Zoo is a place of rescue for many animals. Rusti is a 315-lb male orangutan that came to the Honolulu Zoo in bad condition about 10 years ago. Joyce Monteville, a Honolulu Zoo volunteer for 14 years said, “Rusti was part of a circus act, when he came to the zoo his hair was matted and he was afraid of many things.”
Rusti was rescued from a private facility on the mainland by the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), was originally a temporary visitor to the zoo. For several years the OFI searched for a permanent home for Rusti, then in 2004 the Mayor of Honolulu announced an agreement with the city and OFI to allow Rusti to stay at the Honolulu Zoo. Within the same year, The Honolulu City Council approved the building of a new exhibit for Rusti.
The Honolulu Zoo Society was then given the responsibility to build and manage the construction of the exhibit. The exhibit was completed in December 2004 and was built with private funding, costing about $700,000.
At the age of 24, Rusti was given the opportunity to climb his first tree. Rusti’s new exhibit is approximately 20 times bigger, and then his original exhibit when he first arrived to the Honolulu Zoo, 10 years ago.
Violet, a 139-lb female orangutan came to the Honolulu Zoo about three years ago. Monteville said, “When Violet first came to us she would hide in the hanging baskets, she was very timid.”
“ When Rusti and Violet were first introduced to each other they were scared and getting adjusted to the new environment which caused them to slowly get along,” Leslie Dean, a Honolulu Zoo volunteer for 12 years said, “Today Rusti and Violet are inseparable, Rusti follows Violet everywhere she goes and they share food with each other.”

Orangutan Facts
The orangutan is the only great ape found in Asia; they are found only in rainforests of the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The orangutan is a very intelligent primate and is one of man’s closest relative sharing 97 percent of the same DNA.
Orangutans have long arms and large hands which allow them to spend most of their time in trees. Male orangutans are twice the size of female orangutans and can weigh up to 200 pounds and reach the height of five feet. Monteville said, “Orangutans can live to about 40 years old in the wild, and up to 50 years old in captivity.”
Orangutans are solitarity animals and usually travel alone or in small groups, consisting of two females, dependent young, and occasionally an adult male. Adult male orangutans usually travel alone, and bellow loudly through their large cheek flaps when looking for a female orangutan. Male orangutans also bellow loudly to claim territory from other male orangutans.
A baby orangutan will stay with its mother until it is six to 10 years old. Female orangutans usually have four to five orangutans in her lifetime.
Orangutans are mostly vegetarian animals. At the Honolulu Zoo, Rusti and Violet’s lettuce or fruit is hung from their hanging baskets or climbing ropes. Female orangutans are smaller and lighter than male orangutans allowing them to climb trees while the male stays low to the ground, said Monteville. Violet climbs onto the hanging baskets and Rusti keeps close by her.
Rusti and Violet’s new exhibit has brought them together, and now are inseparable. They are a living proof that the Honolulu Zoo brings animals together, gives them a new home, and hope for a new and healthy life.


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