Rudy's a mamma – drawings of orangutans

Jim featured

Jim the Orangutan, detail, by Alice Sabatini

The Topeka Zoo has just welcomed a new addition: a baby orangutan!
Alice C. Sabatini, for whom our gallery is named, used to work closely with Gary K. Clarke of the Topeka Zoo. Alice was an educator, artist and illustrator, and made drawings of the animals and buildings of the zoo for publicity. The library is proud to own several hundred of her sketches, designs, and finished works.

2005.1.210 small

Alice made this portrait when Jim was a baby.

Over many years, Alice went to the zoo and made drawings of the animals. She would use the drawings, and develop them into graphic designs, for publicity for the zoo. They are lovely – true portraits. You can see the personality of the animals in her work.
Jim was the first orangutan at the zoo. Since then, other orangutans, including Rudy and Mawas have joined the zoo, and their baby is the newborn.
We don’t have any drawings by Alice of Rudy, but we do have some sketches of Jim, as a baby, and later as an adult orangutan. Jim became famous for turning a truck tire inside out, breaking a large chunk of the orangutan display the first day he was in it, and becoming an artist. One of his abstract watercolor paintings even won an art competition! We wonder what talents this new little one may have? He is not yet named. The Zoo will have the community help choose a name.

2005.1.204 small

As an adult, Jim had the recognizable face of a male orangutan.

It is exciting to see so many wonderful things happening at our zoo. Thanks to many dedicated employees and volunteers, Topeka has a great resource to learn about animals. The library has an archive of materials from the Topeka Zoo in the Topeka Room.  In the archive is a zoo newsletter from 1987, with pictures of Rudy as a baby, photographed by Nancy Cherry. We have Gary Clarke’s books available for checkout – including the one about his years at the World Famous Topeka Zoo, called “Hey Mister – Your Alligator is Loose!”.

Nancy Cherry photo of Joseph and Rudy web

It’s hard to believe Rudy is all grown up, and a mother of two!

She was a cutie!

Sherry Best

Our library has a very cool art collection, and I get to be in charge of it. I started drawing when I was 4 years old, and never stopped making art. I want to do more than show you art, I want to help you understand it, relate to it, and 'get' it. Art lets us share what it is to be human.