Meet Gracia and the Kids

The Matriarch

Gracia is more than 25 years old, but we don’t know the exact year she was born! She lives in Sabangau Forest in Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). She is a very experienced mother who has given birth to three offspring since 2003 (Georgia, Gretel and Gara).

Sabangau Forest is under the watchful eye of the research team at the Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) (Formerly known as OUTROP). Academic research teams have been observing the orangutans of Sabangau for nearly two decades! Sabangau is home to one of the largest remaining wild orangutan populations on earth.

Gracia has a very distinctive visage with two protruding veins on her face, which make her easy to recognize in the forest. The BNF team think she has a wise face! Don't you agree? Gracia is very relaxed with Gara, her third child and first baby boy.

Photos of Gracia, Gretel & Gara

The First-born

Gracia's firstborn child is Georgia, a female born August 2003. She is now 14 years old. Georgia is now independent from Gracia. She explores the forest separately from her mother, but still meets up with her family occasionally to play with her siblings and to feed together.

Gracia’s oldest daughter has been followed by BNF researchers for almost her entire life, so she is very comfortable with being observed by the field team. Like her mother, Georgia’s face is very distinctive as she still has patches of pink around her eyes and her cheeks, like younger orangutans often do.

Over the past year, Georgia has been the most social orangutan who the team has observed. She is often found together with other orangutans. However, some of the older females are not too thrilled to have Georgia nearby and actively chase her away.

Georgia has recently formed an interesting relationship with a young, unflanged male, called Keto. Normally the team only finds a male and female together for short periods of time (this is called consortship), but Keto and Georgia have been traveling, eating and playing together quite consistently for about a year now.

Photos of Georgia

The middle sibling

Gracia's second child is Gretel, who was born June 2010. She is now 8 years old.

The team has started to observe Gretel traveling around the forest more independently from her mother, but only for short periods of time before she meets up with her mother and her baby brother, Gara, again. Young orangutans become independent from their mothers at approximately 7-8 years old, a process usually kick started by the arrival of a new baby in the family.

Gretel can be extremely entertaining to watch! Because of her age, she is still very playful and tries to stay quite close to Gracia— and even plays with brother Gara when she gets a chance.

A few months ago Gretel was observed climbing inside a big tree hole! Maybe she was drinking water from the hole or possibly playing – we are not sure.

The baby of the family

Gracia's third baby is Gara, a male born in July 2016. He is now nearly 2 years old!

Gara is the newest addition to Gracia’s extended family. As is typical of baby orangutans, he is very curious and rarely sits still! He always seems to be playing with something, or testing out his climbing abilities as he explores the canopy— always with Gracia keeping a close eye.

Interesting behavior

Gracia, Georgia and Gretel have all been seen eating bee larva, an unusual behavior for orangutans. We are really interested in this behavior and we think it is a behavior that the family have learned from each other— a distinct orangutan culture passed on from one to another!