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Presents of frozen grapes with a yoghurt smear and rice bubbles hidden in shredded paper greeted orang-utan Sungai at Perth Zoo yesterday when the curious youngster had his first birthday.

Keepers decorated his enclosure with birthday posters and streamers - even though Sungai's mother Sekara was expected to eat most of the presents while Sungai got the wrapping paper.

Zoo senior orang-utan keeper Kylie Bullo said Sekara was a protective, loving mother and Sungai "a bit of a mummy's boy".

"He's definitely, in the last few months, becoming more independent so now he's starting to climb by himself, he'll hang on the ropes by himself but Mum's generally still close by," she said.

"He's also starting to eat a lot more solid food. They start trying solids at about six months and tropical fruit is his favourite, like most orang-utans, so he definitely loves his grapes and mango."

January is also a big month for the zoo's orang-utans with the youngest ape Lestari turning one and her grandmother Puan celebrating her 60th birthday.

Sungai may one day go to another zoo or be released in the wild.