Mari, a pure Sumatran orangutan, came to the Center from a research facility in Georgia where she was part of a language and cognition study. Mari is a very unusual orangutan in that she has no arms. She lost both her arms while still an infant when her mother, in a very agitated state, damaged her limbs beyond repair. In spite of the accident, Mari is a very capable orangutan. She uses her chin to hoist herself up, uses her feet as we would our hands, and she walks upright (or rolls when she wants to get somewhere quickly). Initially, we were concerned that she might have difficulty maneuvering in a new environment, but she quickly proved us wrong. She moves with such ease and grace that sometimes we forget that she is missing her arms.

Mari and Pongo live together in a habitat with platforms specifically built for Mari’s limitations (not that she needs concessions). When Pongo was an adolescent, but still much larger than Mari, he would retreat into a bucket or tub to get away from the intimidating stare Mari gave him if she wasn’t in the mood for play.

  • Mari was born October 24, 1981.
  • Many mornings, Mari climbs the ladder to the top of her 40-foot tall enclosure using her chin and her feet. She also likes to spend part of the day walking upright through the woods in the chute system.
  • Great apes in general are extremely intelligent animals and need a very stimulating environment when housed in captivity. At the Language Research Center at Georgia State University where Mari spent many years before coming to the sanctuary, Mari worked with lexigrams, mazes, puzzles, and memory tasks. She could even solve computer mazes by manipulating a joystick with her feet, and still enjoys doing that at the sanctuary with a laptop donated specifically for her. Mari is an extremely smart orangutan, and we are always brainstorming to create different activities to keep her challenged and active. Her newest interest is playing on an iPad, generously donated to her from the group, Orangutan Outreach.
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