Matchmaking at Sacramento Zoo hopes to pair orangutans for romance

Profiles of Makan and Indah, potential mates at the Sacramento Zoo.
Profiles of Makan and Indah, potential mates at the Sacramento Zoo. Sacramento Zoo

Instead of Match.com for apes or some dating site for swingers, the keepers at the Sacramento Zoo are about to introduce their longtime bachelor orangutan Makan to a playful potential mate from Houston named Indah.

With the backing of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoo may have found a future mate for Makan in 13-year-old Indah, described by the zoo as sweet and independent.

Their back stories, provided by the zoo, show two primates with turn-ons and turn-offs:

▪ Makan likes: Being a “spooky ghost” under a sheet, attention from another member of his species, painting and yogurt.

▪ Makan dislikes: Brussels sprouts and getting drenched.

▪ Indah likes: Playing with blankets, fruits, vegetables and swinging on ropes.

▪ Indah dislikes: Doesn’t like to be told “no.”

The possible hookup between Indah and Makan, 14, begins when she arrives in the Sacramento region in late spring. First Indah must complete quarantine before being moved to the zoo’s orangutan facility, where she will be in close proximity to Makan and Cheli, the zoo’s 45-year-old female orangutan.

The hope of zoo staff is that Indah and Makan, on their own schedule, develop romantic feelings toward each other. Not to put pressure on the potential couple, but Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered.

Native to the island of Sumatra, the arboreal apes need tall forests to exist, according to a zoo blog. Their habitat is endangered by expanding palm oil plantations and deforestation.

Orangutans are also killed for meat or trapped for the illegal pet trade. It is estimated that there are only about 14,000 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild.

Two new Sumatran orangutan populations are gradually being established by reintroduction of confiscated illegal pets to habitat in a national park and a reserve. About 260 of the apes have been reintroduced.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews