Biruté Galdikas

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Biruté Galdikas

Biruté GaldikasOrangutan Expert and Activist

Childhood & SchoolingBiruté was born in Germany on May 10, 1946, but she was raised in Toronto, Canada. As a five-year-old, she wondered where humans came from, loved to play in the woods alone and pretend to be a Native American, and she loved to learn about her ape ancestors. Galdikas received bachelor’s degrees in psychology and zoology, and an anthropology master’s and doctorate from UCLA in California.

Biruté with a young orangutan

Job HistoryAfter Louis Leakey, a famous kenyan paleontologist gave a lecture at her college, Biruté approached him and expressed her interest in orangutans. Leakey, after much thinking, decided to help her and be a mentor to her. At age 25, after much waiting, Galdikas and her husband Rod Brindamour went to Borneo, Indonesia to study the orangutans. When Biruté went to look for the orangutans, she couldn't find any, but she was patient, and on December 24, 1971 she saw an orangutan with her baby. Biruté named the mother Beth and the baby Bert. As she studied the orangutans, she began to realize what amazing climbers they were. As she kept watching them, Biruté saw more and more types of orangutans. She noticed how the male orangutans were twice as big as the female orangutans, and how orangutans didn't just roam in trees, but they also walked around on the ground.

AwardsIndonesia’s Hero for the Earth Award (Kalpataru)Tyler Prize for Environmental AchievementInstitute of Human Origins Science AwardOfficer, Order of CanadaPETA Humanitarian AwardUnited Nations Global 500 AwardSierra Club Chico Mendes AwardEddie Bauer Hero for the EarthQueen Elizabeth II Commemorative Medal (Canada)Chevron Conservation AwardPride of Lithuania AwardGold Medal for Conservation, Chester Zoological Society (UK)Explorer and Leadership Award Royal Geographic Society of SpainQueen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal (Canada)Satya Lencana Pembangunan Medal (Indonesia)

Biruté still watches and studies orangutans and lives among them, making the worlds longest coninuous study of a mammal by one person. She doesn't just do that, however. Biruté advocates for them because of deforestation, poaching, and other things that endanger orangutans. Her non-profit organization, "Orangutan Foundation International", helps orangutans by protecting their habitat (the rainforest), funding community programs, researching the orangutans, rescuing them from danger, and much more.

Hobbies and InterestsThe forest was and has been a big part of Birute Galdikas' life. As a child living in Toronto, Galdikas liked to explore in the backwoods of her house. In addition, Biruté studied orangutans in the forsets of Indonesia and has lived there most of her life. Galdikas will always be a part of the forest. Another interest of Biruté is reading. The book that got her into science and exploring was in fact, Curious George. In addition, Galdikas even said in an interveiw with the New York Times that, "You can’t put cereal boxes in front of me, because I’ll read them." Along with reading, Galdikas has written 3 books of her own, including Reflections of Eden (1995), and Great Ape Odessey (2005). Other than forests, reading, and writing, probably Galdikas' greatest passion is her orangutan charity "Orangutan Foundation International". She works tirelessly to make sure that these amazing orange apes don't go extinct due to deforestation.

Citations:"Scientist Sunday: Leakey's Angels Part III, Biruté Galdikas." INKCHROMA. N.p., 19 Dec. 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2015."Orangutan - Google Search." Orangutan - Google Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015." Foster A  Red Ape ." Orangutan Foundation International RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015."Dr. Birute Galdikas Blog." N.p., n.d. Web."Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas." Orangutan Foundation International RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

Female Orangutan


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