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Central Washington University

Noted Orangutan Expert Biruté Mary Galdikas Speaks at CWU on April 13

ELLENSBURG, Washington — One of the world’s foremost experts on orangutans, Biruté Mary Galdikas, will speak about her research during a presentation from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 13 in the Student Union and Recreation Center on the Central Washington University campus.

In addition to Galdikas’ presentation, the event will include an orangutan conservation pre-event fair, and book/poster signing opportunity. 

Galdikas’ involvement with orangutans began in 1971 when she arrived in one of the world’s last wild places, Tanjung Puting Reserve in Indonesian Borneo to do what she has described as the “impossible,” which was to study orangutans in the wild.

While there, she set up “Camp Leakey,” named after her mentor, famed paleoanthropologist and archaeologist Lewis Leakey, and began documenting the ecology and behavior of the wild orangutans. Four years later, she wrote the cover article for National Geographic Magazine, bringing orangutans widespread international public attention for the first time.

Orangutans are the largest arboreal animal on the planet, they can live to be over 60-years old, and are heavily threatened by habitat loss, illegal hunting, slash-and-burn agriculture, and climate change.

“Since the 1970s, Dr. Galdikas is the only person who has continuously studied orangutans in nature,” said Lori Sheeran, Director of CWU’s Primate Behavior and Ecology program. “Thanks to her, we know what we know about this rare ape.”

Sheeran described Galdikas’ visit to CWU as a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about and advocate for the plight of orangutan conservation. She said their plight is a global conservation issue and Galdikas has devoted her life to advocating for these intelligent yet critically endangered creatures.

Galdikas’ keynote address will begin at 6pm in SURC 210. For ticket information, go to: All donations and proceeds directly benefit Orangutan Foundation International.

For more information, contact Jake Funkhouser & Ruth Linsky, 360-208-4210,

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