Getting To Know Them Better

Mari, a pure Sumatran orangutan, was 20 years old in 2001 when she arrived at the Center for Great Apes from a language and cognition study at Georgia State University. She is a very special orangutan in that she has no arms. She lost both her arms (while still an infant at 12 weeks old) 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. Mari moves with such ease and grace that sometimes we forget that she is missing her arms.

Great apes are extremely intelligent animals and need a stimulating environment when housed in captivity. At the Language Research Center, Mari worked with lexigrams, mazes, puzzles, and memory tasks. She could even solve computer mazes by manipulating a joystick with her feet.

Today, Mari still loves to work with puzzles and to sort things into containers. She likes to paint, and loves a big tub of water. She daily climbs the ladder to the top of her 40-foot-tall enclosure using her chin and her feet, and she likes to spend part of the day walking upright through the woods in the aerial trailways. When she’s ready for a rest, she climbs into her hammock for a nap.

Mari lives with Pongo and has been his companion for the past 20 years.

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Interesting Facts

  • Mari was born October 24, 1981 at the Yerkes primate research facility in Atlanta.
  • At age five, she was sent to the Language Research Center at Georgia State University where she participated for 15 years in a language and cognition study.
  • Mari has no arms, having lost them in an accident as an infant.


Caring for one of our apes costs over $27,000 a year. By symbolically adopting the ape of your choice, you are helping ensure your orangutan or chimpanzee's health, safety, and well-being.

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.

Center for Orangutan and Chimpanzee Conservation, Inc. dba Center for Great Apes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, FEID 65-0444725.

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