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Rocky the orangutan shows deep connection with Indianapolis Zoo staff, guests

"Rocky became special from the very beginning," said the zoo's operations coordinator.

INDIANAPOLIS — While staff at the Indianapolis Zoo are hesitant to pick their favorite primate, Rocky the orangutan probably ranks near the top.

"Sometimes it's scary the intelligence that I get from them on a daily basis," said Lisa Smith, operations coordinator at the Indianapolis Zoo.

She's worked with Rocky, one of the zoo's most popular animals, for the 12 years he's been in Indianapolis.

"Rocky became special from the very beginning," she said. "I think Rocky is very personable to people when they come up to the glass to see him. He focuses, he looks you in the eye, he makes you feel like you have a connection with him, and I feel he does connect."

Rocky came to the Indianapolis Zoo as a five-year-old in 2010. He was rescued from the entertainment industry two years earlier.

"They really play off of a person's moods, emotions, everything," said Smith. "I think that is the neatest thing."

RELATED: 2022 schedule of events released for Indianapolis Zoo

But like any good mother, Smith doesn't pick a favorite primate to work with.

"I love them all, they're all individuals," she said. "They have their different personalities, they have different likes and dislikes about each of us. Sometimes their best judgment of a person when they come down, makes you sometimes step back and take a look at how you portray yourself."

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