NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Audubon Zoo is thrilled to announce that its critically endangered Sumatran orangutan infant born on December 24, 2021, has been named Roux. This announcement was made today during a Facebook LIVE on the Zoo’s Facebook page. Click HERE to watch the announcement!  

“We are grateful to the community for helping us pick a name and extremely overwhelmed by the nearly 10K total votes that were cast,” said Audubon Zoo’s Curator of Primates Liz Wilson. “Our team feels that Roux perfectly fits the newest member of our orangutan family and loves that it pays homage to his New Orleans roots.”

The Zoo’s dedicated orangutan care team narrowed their selection of names for the infant down to their top three favorites and asked the public to choose the winner. The following were the names voted on:

  • Rudy – short for Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer in honor of the infant’s December 24 birthday and the name of Notre Dame football’s famous underdog who beat the odds
  • Roux – French for a reddish brown like the color of an orangutan’s fur and the thickening base used to make gumbo
  • Maymuun – a name meaning fortunate, blessed, or one who thrives in Sumatra, the native habitat of Sumatran orangutans

Roux continues to gain weight and has begun daily visual introductions with the rest of the orangutan group at the Zoo. His care team is also giving him more exercise opportunities to encourage him to build up stamina and grip strength.

His care team is still determining a timeframe for reintroducing him to his mother, Menari, based on his continued improvements. They continue to work closely with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Orangutan Species Survival Plan advisors and Children’s Hospital New Orleans on next steps for the infant.

Roux’s father, Jambi, has sired Feliz’s infant, Bulan, in 2019 and Reese’s infant, Madu, in February 2021 since joining Audubon Zoo’s orangutan group from Germany’s Hannover Zoo in 2018. Jambi’s move from Germany to the U.S. and into the AZA Sumatran orangutan population has added vital genetic diversity of the species.

Maintaining a genetically diverse population in human care is important because Sumatran orangutans have been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “critically endangered” and therefore threatened with extinction in our lifetime—there are fewer than 14,000 living in the wild and their numbers are declining, mainly because of human-wildlife conflict due to the spread of palm oil plantations into their forest habitat.

The orangutan group at the Zoo serves as ambassadors for their species, teaching guests about the plight of Sumatran orangutans in the wild due to human-wildlife conflict. Audubon is committed to helping create experiences that spark action and empower visitors to impact nature and wildlife for the better.

“Using the right materials and avoiding the wrong ones can help deforestation and habitat loss,” said Wilson. “Simply buying sustainable palm oil products can help orangutans from losing their habitats.”

To learn more about sustainable choices to help save wildlife, visit: action.audubonnatureinstitute.org