Melbourne Zoo male orang-utan Malu, 15, shows off his muscles, which he hopes to build up in a planned gym. Picture: David Caird
Melbourne Zoo male orang-utan Malu, 15, shows off his muscles, which he hopes to build up in a planned gym. Picture: David Caird

Why Melbourne Zoo’s orang-utans will soon have a gym

MELBOURNE Zoo's orang-utan keepers have come up with an innovative solution to an age-old issue - teenage boys struggling with their physicality.

A new "Meccano-like" gym is being built for the zoo's six Sumatran orang-utans at the edge of the sanctuary.

The steel structure of boxes and poles is expected to most benefit the zoo's growing teen, Malu, now 15.

Harna Burton, the zoo's primates life sciences manager, said the gym would create a fun and exploratory space for all the playful primates, especially Malu.

"He can be disruptive but he's a teenager so we need to find a space suitable for a teenage male. We are already fulfilling all the orang-utans' needs but this is something extra.''

The gym, inspired by the zoo's primate team of 17 staff, will complement the exhibit's three other spaces - the open enclosure, the closed netted space and indoor day room.

 

Melbourne Zoo male orang-utan Malu, 15, shows off his rope swinging skills. Picture: David Caird
Melbourne Zoo male orang-utan Malu, 15, shows off his rope swinging skills. Picture: David Caird

 

Malu shows off his muscles, which he hopes to build up in a planned gym. Picture: David Caird
Malu shows off his muscles, which he hopes to build up in a planned gym. Picture: David Caird

The new area will also act as an outdoor retreat, Ms Burton said.

The gym is being built off-site and is expected to be installed next month.

Keeper Alex Ward has a construction background and was able to help design and draw plans for the structure.

"It's a bit like a giant Meccano set for them to explore,'' he said.

Malu was born at the zoo in 2003 and made headlines in 2015 when he briefly escaped from the enclosure, sparking a shutdown of the Parkville site.



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