Dr. Gary Shapiro

Founder of Orang Utan Republik Foundation

Gary L. Shapiro, Ph.D. began his involvement with orangutans 50 years ago in the field of primate cognition and learning. He was the first person (1973-1975) to teach a symbolic communication system to an orangutan named Aazk (at the now Chaffee Zoological Park, Fresno, CA) and the first person to have taught sign language to orangutans in the species' natural environment, the forests of Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo (1978-1980; 1981). One of the orangutans, Princess, adopted Shapiro as her father. Shapiro was able to teach Princess over 30 signs which she used to express her interests in obtaining items and activities of interest as well as describing her environment. Princess also joined seven other orangutans in a study of sign learning which became Shapiro's dissertation project. During his time in Indonesian Borneo, Shapiro assisted in the rehabilitation efforts of dozens of orangutans confiscated from the illegal pet trade and monitored the phenology of the local rainforest ecosystem.

Nationality: US
September 26, 2023

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