Razak and Auntie


Razak and Auntie is comprised of steel and sculpted, pigmented concrete. It is 64” wide and 65” high and weights in at 1174 pounds!

Razak and Auntie depicts two orangutans that live in Cameron Park Zoo; Razak, who was born in January 2017, and Kutai, his “auntie”. Just after Razak was born, his mother, Mei, began to display irregular, threatening behavior, and the decision was made to remove Razak from her care for his protection. Zoo staff decided to take over most of the infant’s daily care in hopes Mei could eventually raise him on her own. During this time, Razak was introduced to Kutai, so that she could provide surrogate care and all-important species bonding for him. Later, Mei recovered from what turned out to be a form of post-partum depression. She and Razak were reintroduced and they now have a strong mother-child relationship. This story, like so many from the animal world, gives us an insight into how much we have in common. Human families suffer trauma and mental illness, too. Having the right kind of loving support in life can come in many different forms.

By Solomon Bassoff and Domenica Mottarella

Artists Solomon Bassoff and Domenica Mottarella work together in sculpted, pigmented concrete which they sculpt by hand like clay. They then add steel, tile mosaic, glass and other materials to create unique and whimsical animal characters that are designed to invite exploration and curiosity. They like to convey animals’ emotional characteristics to create a connection between the human and animal world with their unique blend of naturalism and realism.

Together, Bassoff and Mottarella run Faducci Studio, located in the foothills of the California Sierra Nevada. They have created much-loved public artworks In California, Washington, Oklahoma, and Texas. Keep a look out for them, as they are very recognizable. These artworks always look like they are about to tell you a story.

View all sculptures by this artist.

Donated By

Ellen and Ray DeaverEllen and Ray Deaver Family

When we were invited to view artist renderings of what was to become the Sculpture Zoo by the river, Ray and I were drawn to “Razak and Auntie” and immediately selected it. We had followed the development of our extraordinary orangutan exhibit and had come to understand the importance and rarity of a program of this kind. One of our granddaughters, Alexandra Deaver, worked with the orangutans during high school. We celebrated the birth of Razak and then worried, with others, about the fact that her mother, Mei, developed post-partum depression and was unable to bond with and care for her new baby. As happens in human families, another family member stepped in to meet Razak’s needs until Mei could assume her duties as his mother. This sculpture portrays the love of Auntie Kutai as she lovingly cares for baby Razak. This remarkable piece of art is a celebration of our amazing orangutan program; and this animal world example of nurturing is a tribute to all who provide care and support for those entrusted to them for whatever reason.

Betsy and Clifton Robinson, Ellen and Ray Deaver Family

Did You Know?

  • Orangutans are red-haired apes that live in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo in southeast Asia.
  • Orangutans spend most of their time up in the trees, where they use their long, strong arms and hook-shaped hands to climb and swing from branch to branch.
  • Infants stay with their mother for six to seven years, until they’ve learnt the necessary skills to survive on their own. During this time, a very special bond is formed between the mother and child.
  • These amazing apes generally have long lives! In captivity they can live for 50-60 years.


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