The saga of Rusti the Orangutang goes on ….it has been more than a year since the City Council of Honolulu voted to build Rusti a $200,000 dollar permanent enclosure around a Banyan tree. Currently he is in a little cage where he looks depressed and has been for years.
Rusti is is healthy and should have a long future ahead of him. He’s 25 now and could live to be 65.
Rusti has always had a hard time fitting in. He was born in captivity in Seattle, and his mother rejected him while he was still an infant. He was bullied by other orangutans, and was raised by a series of human foster parents before ending up in a small indoor cage at the private Scotch Plains Zoo in New Jersey.
Earlier plans called for Rusti to live in a sanctuary with up to 20 orangutans on the Big Island, but it was never built. He was later headed for a special cage at Kualoa Ranch in Windward O’ahu. The ranch dropped the plan opposition from animal-rights groups that wanted Rusti sent to a sanctuary in Florida.
Zoo director Ken Redman said plans are moving forward to bring in a female playmate for Rusti from the San Diego Zoo in time for the move to the new place. Redman explained that the move will be for companionship rather than breeding because Rusti, a half-Sumatran, half-Bornean orangutan, has been neutered.
He said the new orangutan exhibit is expected to be finished before the zoo goes for accreditation in November, something that should help the facility shine and please Rusti’s many visitors.
“Everybody loves Rusti. Everybody knows Rusti,” Redman said. “He’s got a huge fan club.”