Donor and former Zoo Commission President, Shelby Kaplan Sloan established the Sloan Animal Keeper Advanced Studies Fund in 2003 to provide keepers with opportunities for hands-on field experiences with particular animals. Upon completing their fieldwork, they share their experiences and insights with the staff and the animals at the Zoo.
2006 Sloan Grant
Recipient of a 2006 Sloan Grant, Animal Keeper Nancy Bunn spent a month tracking wild orangutans through the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, to document their movements, diets, behaviors, and record which plants they might have been eating for medicinal purposes. The Wild Orangutan Self Medication Strategies project in Sumatra expands knowledge in the area of medicinal plants with an emphasis on parasite/host interactions as they may pertain to orangutans in captivity.
“Orangutans are animals I’ve always had a passion for because I think they’re incredible. And to get to see them in the wild was a dream come true,” says Bunn.
When Bunn returned to the Zoo after seeing orangutans in the wild, she brought with her a new appreciation for them, which in turn benefited the orangutans here.
“They are so athletic, so intelligent, and seeing them traveling in the treetops just increased my passion for them. As far as the orangutans at the zoo, it’s so important that they have lots of climbing apparatus, and we’ve done that with our exhibit. We also try to add some of the natural diet they get in the wild to captivity. I’m just so proud of our exhibit and the care we give to our orangutans,” Bunn reflects.