Bob, the Greenville Zoo's 7-year-old orangutan, is heading out West to start a new family, zoo officials said Monday.
Bob will leave Dec. 3 for his new home at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, where he'll be paired with an older female orangutan.
The match was made as part of a recommendation by the Species Survival Program, which manages the captive population of orangutans in North American zoos.
Greenville Zoo Director Jeff Bullock said it's never easy saying goodbye to a zoo animal, especially one that the community has watched grow up.
But, Bullock said, "Bob is now at an age where it is time for him to start his own family."
In Portland, he'll be introduced to 12-year-old Kitra, who hails from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Oregon Zoo currently is home to two other orangutans — matriarch Inji, who at 54 is one of the oldest orangutans anywhere, and Kumar, a 9-year-old male who just moved in earlier this month, according to the zoo's website.
Bob's last day in Greenville is Dec. 3. The zoo will hold a farewell celebration 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday near the orangutan exhibit.
Bob was born at the zoo on Jan. 23, 2006. Bob's parent's Mia, 25, and Chelsea, 24, arrived in Greenville in 2003. Mia is owned by the Greenville Zoo, and Chelsea is on breeding loan from the San Diego Zoo.
Orangutans are an endangered species found only on the Asian islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
Increased demand for palm oil has pushed the species even closer to extinction, according to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The Greenville Zoo is working with other zoos to promote awareness of the problem and encourage the use of sustainable palm oil.