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Beloved Woodland Park Zoo Orangutan's Birthday

Sweet orangutan Chinta turns 50 and you're invited to the party

Published on: February 12, 2018

Chinta the orangutan at Woodland Park Zoo
Chinta the orangutan. Courtesy Woodland Park Zoo

Fifty is a big deal birthday for anyone, but for Chinta the orangutan, it’s a record-breaker. And you're invited to her birthday party on Saturday, Feb. 17! Among the resident orangutans at Woodland Park Zoo, Chinta is easy to spot with her stylish red bangs.

“This is a significant milestone because in Woodland Park Zoo’s 118-year history, we have never celebrated the 50th birthday of any of our animals. Living for five decades is a testament to the excellent care provided at the zoo and the dedication and love by the orangutan keepers,” said Gigi Allianic, the zoo’s senior manager of public relations and communications.

An extraordinary ape

Described as a “sweet girl,” Chinta may not be aware that her life is extraordinary. Born at Woodland Park Zoo in February 1968, Chinta and her twin brother Towan were the first-ever zoo-born orangutan twins; their baby pictures were even featured in "Life Magazine."

Their mother didn’t know how to feed them, so Chinta and Towan were hand-raised by zoo staff and volunteers. Towan lived to be 48; he passed away in 2016. Chinta joins a handful of zoo orangutans who have reached their fifties. Orangutans are a critically endangered species, and rarely live to age 40 in the wild.

Baby Chinta and twin Towan in 1968
Baby Chinta and twin brother Towan in 1968. Courtesy Woodland Park Zoo archives

Chinta’s birthday bash

On view to visitors, Chinta and her orangutan companions (two of whom conincidentally share her birthday!) will receive streamers, flowers and gift-wrapped treats, and be presented with an orangutan-safe (ginger-carrot-sweet potato) birthday cake. There will be cake-pops (while supplies last), Chinta collector cards and prizes for human party guests.

Zoo staff will teach guests about orangutans at the zoo and in the wild. Eric Sano, who at age 6 named Chinta and her brother in a naming contest and got to be keeper of the baby orangutans for a day in 1968, will attend. He's now a captain with the Seattle Police Department.

If you go...

When: Saturday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Cake and presents for Chinta scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

Where: Woodland Park Zoo, 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle. Birthday activities will take place at the Trail of Vines orangutan exhibit.

Cost: Chinta's party activities are included with regular zoo admission ($14.95/adult, $9.95/child ages 3–12, ages 2 and under free) or membership.

Help orangutans: Even if you miss the party, you can do something nice for Chinta — learn about Woodland Park Zoo’s partnership with Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Project in Borneo, and use this palm oil guide to find sustainable, deforestation-free products when shopping.

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