Birthday Celebration

Saturday, June 1, 2019
Fragile Forest

Join us to celebrate female Sumatran orangutan Merah's 50th birthday! The great ape care staff will provide birthday-themed enrichment for Merah and her daughters Rubih and Ginger, and Ginger's father Cinta. Meet a keeper and education staff members to learn about the animals and conservation.

  • 9:30 a.m. – orangutan enrichment activity and meet a keeper

  • 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. – education and conservation information

  • 2 p.m. – orangutan enrichment activity and meet a keeper


Merah is the mother of five, grandmother of two and great-grandmother of one. She has had three babies at the Saint Louis Zoo, including daughters 4-year-old Ginger and 14-year-old Rubih, who live with her, and Sugriwa, a son who was born in 1995 and now lives at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Merah was born on May 13, 1969, at a zoo in the Netherlands. She became a first-time mother in 1982 to Badut, now deceased. Merah came to St. Louis in 1992 from the Miami Metro Zoo, where in 1984 she became a mother to Talu, now deceased.

When Merah gave birth to Ginger in 2014 at the age of 45, she became the oldest Sumatran orangutan in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP) to give birth and rear her offspring.

Merah is an excellent mother, according to the great ape care staff. Orangutan infants have a lot to learn from their mothers and are dependent upon them for up to 6 to 8 years. Rubih has had the opportunity to observe Merah raise Ginger, so hopefully one day Rubih will be an exceptional mother as well.

Critically Endangered Orangutans

The three orangutan species – Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli – are classified as critically endangered due to an alarming rate of habitat loss. There are fewer than 125,000 orangutans remaining in the wild and they could be extinct within a decade. A global demand for palm oil has resulted in widespread deforestation and subsequent drastic declines in the number of orangutans that survive in the wild.

The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute supports HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme (HUTAN) in Malaysian Borneo. The grassroots nonprofit organization is working to build innovative solutions to conserve orangutan and other wildlife populations in the forests of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

Click here for what you can do to help save the orangutans.