Ah Meng lives on at Singapore Zoo, as the much-awaited animal icon was revealed ahead of Safari Zoo Run 2016, a race originally conceptualised to honour Singapore’s favourite orangutan. Formerly known as Ishta, the new queen of the jungle will officially begin her reign as Singapore Zoo’s animal ambassador.
The first Ah Meng was Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most adored personalities. As a critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and one of the most iconic in the Zoo’s collection, Ah Meng was an excellent ambassador for her species and all threatened animals. Her role as Singapore’s first non-human tourism ambassador brought fame to Singapore Zoo and in turn, helped open people’s eyes to the plight of orangutans in the wild.
Although she passed on in 2008, she left behind many legacies, in the form of her offspring and their kin, and the passing on of her nurturing qualities as a super mom to the younger orangutans. She is survived by six family members in Singapore Zoo.
Ishta is the natural choice and the perfect candidate to carry on Ah Meng’s name. Aside from having a strong resemblance to her famous grandmother, she exhibits the makings of a matriarch—patience, tolerance towards the other orangutans, and a friendly personality.
Born on 8 March 2011, she is the first offspring of Ah Meng’s late daughter Sayang and Galdikas, a male orangutan from Frankfurt Zoo. When Sayang fell ill, Ishta was fostered by her cousin Chomel who was then raising Bino, her biological son. Ishta also has a biological sister, Endah.