was born at the Memphis Zoo, but because he was a “hybrid” mix between Bornean
and Sumatran orangutans, he was sold to a dealer, and then to a circus trainer.
During his years in the circus, he was called “Tootsie” and worked together in
the circus with the orangutan Radcliffe. They worked together for five years
until Radcliffe was sold to a small New York zoo. From circus work, Chuckie was
then sent to a California compound at age 7 where he lived near trained
chimpanzees, but no other orangutans.
Lumbering, Jovial, Silly
May 6, 1985
Radcliffe, Chuckie was castrated in the circus and therefore never developed the
features and characteristics of an adult male orangutan such as the facial
cheekpads, the long body hair and beard, or the large throat pouch. However, he
still grew very large, and when he first arrived at the sanctuary from
California, he weighed 320 pounds.
fully-grown adult male orangutans do not tolerate the presence of another adult
male in their territory, Chuckie and Radcliffe are like very large adolescent
males and have, at times, enjoyed each other’s company. After Chuckie’s arrival
at the sanctuary in 2006, these two boys were reunited after 16 years
separation and played together, groomed each other, and shared food. Chuckie
has also been introduced to Bam Bam, Louie, Pebbles, and Kiki… and is generally
good-natured and playful with each one.
Cardboard boxes and large paper bags are some of Chuckie’s favorite
play items, and he also likes to get under big plastic tubs and then walk
around with the tubs on his back, looking somewhat like a giant tortoise. But
his all-time favorite activity is water play… either sitting in the sprinklers,
or jumping into a big tub of water! Despite
his large size, Chuckie swings and somersaults around his habitat with grace
and agility. Perhaps a former circus trick, Chuckie knows how to whistle and
will often whistle for attention from his caregivers. (It always surprises us
when we hear this.)
There are very few foods that
Chuckie won’t eat, but his favorites are any kinds of fruits. At the end of the
day, Chuckie makes a huge nest using straw, blankets, and branches.