OFI's Founder and President is Dr. Biruté M.Galdikas
Scientist, conservationist, educator: for four decades Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas has studied and worked closely with the orangutans of Indonesian Borneo in their natural habitat, and is today the world’s foremost authority on the orangutan.
Galdikas began her studies of natural sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), quickly earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology and zoology in 1966 and her master’s degree in anthropology in 1969. It was there as a graduate student that she first met Kenyan anthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey and spoke with him about her desire to study orangutans.
After three years, Dr. Leakey finally found the funding for Galdikas’ orangutan studies, as he had previously done with both Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey for their studies on chimpanzees and mountain gorillas, respectively.
And so in 1971, Galdikas and her then husband, photographer Rod Brindamour, arrived in one of the world’s last wild places, Tanjung Puting Reserve in Indonesian Borneo. There were no telephones, roads, electricity, television, or regular mail service there at that time. Before she left the U.S., she was told by her professors and others that it "couldn’t be done"; she wouldn’t be able to study orangutans in the wild.
Before long, however, her hard work and determination paid off. By the year’s end, she had set up "Camp Leakey," named after her benefactor and had begun documenting the ecology and behavior of the wild great apes. Four years later, she wrote the cover article for National Geographic magazine, bringing the orangutan widespread international public attention for the first time. The article was illustrated with Brindamour’s photographs.
The Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) was established in 1989 by Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas and a group of concerned scientists and lay people. Since its inception, OFI has rescued and returned to the wild over 450 orangutans in Indones
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