Jungle Island’s orangutan family gets new home at Central Florida sanctuary

Connie the orangutan.
Connie the orangutan. (Jungle Island)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Amid a multi-million dollar transformation at Jungle Island, the attraction has found a new home for its orangutan family at a nonprofit sanctuary in Wauchula, Florida.

Jungle Island had five apes, including 16-year-old twins Peanut and Pumpkin, which were transported Friday to the Center for Great Apes.

Several of the orangutans' family members already reside at the sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees, which sits on more than 100 secluded acres in Central Florida.

“Along with Jungle Island’s veterinarian and the orangutans' caretaker, we feel this is the right decision for the orangutans,” said Micha Dubernard, Chief of Staff at ESJ Capital Partners, which acquired Jungle Island in April 2017. “It was important to us that we find a facility where they can be together and stay as a family, as well as receive unrivaled care. They are in a peaceful, tranquil environment and will always be cherished in the stories shared with guests at Jungle Island.”

Peanut gained national recognition back in July 2012 when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was then nursed back to health.

She also has a fraternal twin sister, Pumpkin, which is a rarity in the animal kingdom.

According to a Jungle Island news release, the other three orangutans that relocated to the sanctuary are Hanna, Sinbad and Connie.

“We are thrilled to welcome all five orangutans to our great ape family,” said Patti Ragan, Center for Great Apes' founder and director. “We’ve enjoyed working with ESJ Capital Partners and the leadership team at Jungle Island to ensure a seamless transition for these extraordinary animals. Just like at Jungle Island, they will receive individualized and compassionate care.”

The Center for Great Apes is now home to 28 orangutans and 31 chimpanzees.

“As their human mother, I know that their futures will be bright at the Center for Great Apes,” said Linda Jacobs, who is the orangutans' longtime caretaker at Jungle Island. “Each ape at the Center is treated like an individual and with such compassion and integrity. It is important for animals that are so intelligent to have choices in their lives. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect situation and hope everyone will continue to follow their journey.”

According to the news release, at the sanctuary, the apes are able to stroll the woods though a mile-long aerial trailway system, which also allows them to enter various habitats and interact with each other.

They are also provided with various enrichment activities.

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