Every baby needs a name.
And the latest additions to the orangutan and chimpanzee exhibits have their names, which were picked by Kansas City Zoo supporters, officials revealed Friday.
“It’s a fun way, a personal way, a memorable way to support the zoo,” zoo director Randy Wisthoff said.
A donor paid to name the male Bornean orangutan Dusty, who was born May 23. Wisthoff declined to disclose of the size of the donation but said naming donations range from $5,000 to $20,000. The donation depends on the animal and what the donor can pay.
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Wisthoff said that as long as the name is tasteful, the zoo accepts the name. Dusty is the seventh addition to the habitat, joining mom Josie, grandmother Jill and others.
“It sounds more like somebody’s family, rather than a group of apes,” Wisthoff said.
Naming opportunities don’t come around that often, as the zoo carefully controls breeding, Wisthoff said.
The last orangutan born was Kalijon, who made news Sunday when she almost escaped from the habitat. Zoo officials thought it was secure, but they’ve added hot wire at the top.
Dusty won’t be testing the wires anytime soon, though. Wisthoff said he’s still pretty clingy and is learning to hang on to his mom’s hair. He’ll nurse for a year and stay close to Josie for a while. He is Josie’s first baby.
“Orangutan youngsters have long, intense relationships with their mothers, so Josie will spend the next several years showing him vital orangutan skills like how to build nests, where to find food, how to interact with others and how to use tools to forage,” according to a news release.
Across the park, the chimpanzee troop eventually will be joined by Ruw (“roo”), a female born April 1. Ruw’s mom stopped caring for Ruw days after her birth, so zookeepers have been raising her.
The naming process took a little longer for Ruw because Wistoff said the zookeepers wanted to make sure she would survive.
A longtime supporter named the new chimp, the zoo said.
Ruw is short for Ruwenzori, a mountain range in Uganda, and the nickname for the zookeeper team in charge of the chimps.
The release said the new name “symbolizes the hard work and dedication the keeper staff has put forth to raise her in the absence of her mother.”