|Photo Credit: The Virginia Zoo|
|Preliminary sketch (eyes): "Schnitz"|
On his birthday this summer he relaxed in his "recliner" - the front left corner of his enclosure, by the window. In this favorite spot he regally ignored all visitors and his best girl Pepper to munch on his birthday treat - a whole bundle of branches just for him.
Schnitz is in his thirties, late middle age for a captive orangutan and elderly for wild orangutans. He and Pepper are both zoo born and were playmates when they were little. They were reunited in 1995, then came to the Virginia Zoo together in 2011. They are a bonded pair. Once I saw them sitting together with their arms around each other's shoulders. He gently leaned over to kiss her cheek.
|"Schnitz" with his blanket.|
I hoped to be finished with Schnitz's portrait today, but I only got most of the blocking-in done.
Schnitz is a hybrid of the two species of orangutan, the Sumatra and the Borneo. So is Pepper. That doesn't happen under the AZA Species Survival Plan these days. It doesn't make this couple any less wonderful, but they aren't a breeding pair.
|Photo Credit: Rhett Butler/Mongabay|
|Credit: Union of Concerned Scientists|
So this is a small tribute to one individual orangutan who I think is interesting, serene, beautiful, and intelligent. I don't know what he thinks or how it feels to be Schnitz. I can only enjoy being near him and admiring him. Every time I see him, I wonder how his wild fellows are faring. Are we smart enough to save their habitat?
Happy World Orangutan Day, Schnitz!