Katy & Rocky (for Andrea)

In late-July 2008, 19-year old Katy was reunited with her 3-year old son, Rocky.

Prior to their reintroduction, they were both living and working in Hollywood in the entertainment industry.

Katy and Rocky are orangutans.

Both apes were formerly owned by a private company in Los Angeles that specialized in providing trained animals for entertainment and advertising. Rocky, whose resume includes a photo shoot with Fergie in Elle magazine and a Capital One credit card commercial in which he dons a tiara, is credited as being the most recognized orangutan in entertainment today.

The mother and son’s new address is at the Great Ape Trust, a scientific research institute studying great ape behavior and mental abilities, in Des Moines, Iowa. The move is a result of their previous home, Steve Martin’s Working Wildlife in Los Angeles, discontinuing the use of orangutans in entertainment.

Dr. Robert Shumaker, a scientist and director of the Great Ape Trust, says that the end of the orangutans’ Hollywood career is a matter of conservation and public perception. Shumaker claims the we could easily see the end of orangutans in our lifetime.

“Seeing apes in entertainment may lead people to believe that conservation is not an issue for them,” he says. “If that diminishes concern for conservation, then that’s a problem.”

Currently there are only two surviving species of orangutans: the critically endangered Sumatran and the endangered Bornean. Their endangerment has occurred mostly over the past few decades due to human activities and development. Thousands of orangutans don’t reach adulthood due to human interruption. Orangutans are killed for food while others are murdered because of disruption in people’s property. Mother orangutans are killed so their infants can be sold as pets. Many of the infants die without the help of their mother.

Orangutans and humans share approximately 97 percent the same DNA. Orangutans are highly intelligent primates with advanced reasoning and thinking skills, and they are tool-using creatures. They bear amazing similarities to humans: baby orangutans cry, whimper, and smile just like human babies, and their facial expressions indicate happiness, fear, anger, surprise, and other emotions.

Obviously these apes have the capability to achieve Hollywood superstardom. Still, we won’t see orangutans trying to make it in Hollywood anytime soon.

Katy (above), Rocky (below)

One Response to “Katy & Rocky (for Andrea)”

  1. My New Clock (And The Final 2004 Entry) | Keep My Words Says:

    [...] from my bedroom, ticking on the floor of the den where I had neglected it since my trip to visit Andrea over a month [...]

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