Getting To Know Them Better

Chuckie 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 a circus trainer. During his years in the circus, he worked with another orangutan, Radcliffe. Both orangutans were castrated in the circus so they never developed the large facial flanges (cheekpads), long dreads of hair, or throat pouches characteristic of male orangutans who reach sexual maturity. After working together for five years, Radcliffe was sold to a small New York zoo and Chuckie was sent to a California trainer’s compound where he lived near chimpanzees but never another orangutan.

Chuckie was retired and sent to the sanctuary in 2006 where he was reunited with his friend, Radcliffe, who years earlier had also been retired at the sanctuary. When they first met again, the boys played groomed each other and shared food. It was clear that these two remembered each other and were happy to be friends again. Because of their castration, not only was their physical development affected but their mental development as well. The boys behave like adolescents somersaulting around the habitats, hanging upside down, and making juvenile play noises. Unlike the male “cheekpadders” at the Center, Chuckie and Radcliffe are much more outgoing and enjoy “meet-and-greets” with the other orangutans at the sanctuary.

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Interesting Facts

  • Perhaps a trick taught to him in his circus days, Chuckie knows how to whistle and will often whistle for attention from his caregivers.
  • A very social guy, Chuckie can usually be found out exploring the aerial chute system and visiting with staff, volunteers, and his best orangutan friend, Radcliffe.


It costs $22,000 a year to care for one of our apes. By symbolically adopting the ape of your choice for a one-time donation of $300 OR just $25 a month for one year, you are helping ensure the health, safety, and well-being of your orangutan or chimpanzee.

Can't Adopt?

In addition to cash donations, the Center for Great Apes is always in need of food, enrichment items, and supplies. We welcome gifts of all kinds.


Want to know what we need? We have a list of things we would like to have.

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