News Release

January 11, 2019
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
Fostered Orangutan at Brookfield Zoo Turns 5


8367 and 8183: Kecil, a 5-year-old orangutan, enjoying his birthday cake today, January 11, that was prepared for him by animal care staff.
8268: Kecil (left) and Kekasih, his foster sister, enjoy part of a birthday cake. Kecil turned 5 today, January 11, and animal care staff celebrated with zoo guests.
8347 and 8348: Kecil, who turned 5 today, January 11, was given a birthday party by animal care staff. His habitat was decorated with orange gourds that resembled the shape of balloons as well as bamboo and banana leaves. He also received five little cakes and a larger one with the number five on top.

            Brookfield, Ill. – A special orangutan named Kecil (pronounced Ka-cheel) at Brookfield Zoo turned 5 years old today, January 11. To celebrate, animal care staff decorated his habitat with bamboo, banana leaves, and orange gourds that resembled the shape of balloons in Tropic World: Asia.
            Kecil was a little shy making his entrance with the crowd of guests and staff who were on hand for the occasion and sang “Happy Birthday to You.” He eventually made his way out and was able to enjoy several of the five little frozen cakes made of monkey chow, chopped fruit, yogurt, and pineapple juice. Bamboo sticks that served as candles topped each cake. Staff also prepared a flavored ice cake filled with some of his favorite nutritious foods and topped with the number five. However, Kekasih, Kecil’s foster sister quickly retrieved it first.
            Since his birth on January 11, 2014, Kecil has had several foster mothers. At 6 months old, he arrived at Brookfield Zoo after his biological mother at another accredited North American zoo did not provide the proper care he needed, and the optimal level of bonding was not achieved with his first foster mother.
            At Brookfield Zoo, Maggie, an experienced foster mother, provided Kecil the care and attention he needed. He also was able to have “play dates” for social stimulation with then 8-year-old Kekasih. However, two years later Maggie, one of the oldest female orangutans in an accredited North American zoo, died at the age of 54. In May 2016, Brookfield Zoo’s pregnant 35-year-old Sophia took on the role of Kecil’s third foster mother and provided him protection and comfort. Kekasih, Sophia’s daughter, was also part of the new family group.
When Sophia’s new baby was about 9 months old, animal care staff began observing social tensions in the group, and permanently separated Kecil and Kekasih, who are still together. The two are very playful like siblings. However, when Kecil needs comforting, Kekasih is able to fill that role as well.
            Due to the dedicated staff in the zoo’s Primate Department and his foster mothers, Kecil has adjusted well. Because he arrived at Brookfield Zoo at a young age and has had such an unusual upbringing, he holds a special place with his caregivers as well as with guests.
            “Kecil is a very engaging orangutan,” said Nava Greenblatt, lead primate animal care specialist for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the zoo. “We are proud and happy he has adapted so well to his home here at Brookfield Zoo.”
Those interested in helping care for Kecil, can participate in the Society’s Animal Adoption program. A variety of donation packages are available starting at $35. To adopt Kecil and for further information, visit To learn more about Kecil, go to
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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31stStreet in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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