Small in size but big in personality, Mila has easily become a favorite for guests, staff and apes alike at the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center.
Throughout Central Indiana, people have been following the remarkable story of this young Sumatran orangutan since the very beginning when, on March 23, 2016, Mila became the first great ape ever born at the Indianapolis Zoo.
With a personality that blends traits of both her mother Sirih and father Basan, Mila’s growth and development are really taking off at this age.
The youngest of the Zoo’s 11 orangutans, Senior Keeper Lisa Smith said Mila is becoming very active and independent.
“Mila is the tom boy of the group,” Smith said. “She’s a brave little thing and everyone loves her — all the apes.”
This adventurous little ape now spends quite a bit of time exploring on her own throughout the Atrium, though Sirih is always around to keep an eye on her. Mila especially enjoys being with her “Aunt” Nicky as well as Rocky, who has become like Mila’s big brother.
“Mila looks up to him,” Smith said of 14-year-old Rocky. “She wants to do what he’s doing, have his stuff, eat what he’s eating, just be in his space, to the point where she’ll come after him as soon as he comes in (to the Atrium).”
Mila also spends lots of quality time with playmate Max. Guests can often see the pair tumbling around and wrestling throughout the Atrium, and Smith said their favorite activity is playing together inside a sheet hammock that keepers set up for them.
Along with the time she spends with the other orangutans, Mila also enjoys interacting with her keepers. Though, during training sessions, Mila definitely has activities she prefers more than others.
“I work on behaviors with them and the first thing we do is (showing) hands and feet,” Smith explained “She will do hands all day long but she doesn’t want to do feet, and if there’s something she doesn’t want to do, she’ll throw a tantrum. But after a while then she’ll show me her foot.”
At the end of each day, Mila and Sirih cuddle up together in their nest. That precious moment at bedtime perfectly illustrates the special bond shared between orangutan mothers and their babies.
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