Auckland Zoo orangutans on their way to LA

The orangutans will be transported in specially made crates
The orangutans will be transported in specially made crates

Three of Auckland Zoo's six orangutans are in the final stages of preparation to begin the journey of a lifetime.

Madju, Isim and Gangsa are about to fly to Los Angeles as part of an international breeding programme to save the Bornean Orangutan.

They're an endangered species due to deforestation and palm oil plantations.

Madju, who turns 10 next week, is destined for big things, he just doesn't know it yet.

He's heading to Florida to meet with Luna, an 18-year-old, where it's hoped love will blossom.

"It's a nice coincidence that our orangutans have very, very good genes, so they're quite genetically valuable and as soon as they get to the States, they'll move to the top of the gene pool there," says Auckland Zoo's primate team leader Amy Robbins. "They'll be really well used for breeding over there and Isim and Gangsa will go straight into a breeding situation."

The orangutans weren't in the mood to speak to media today. Instead they sent their spokesperson, Ms Robbins. She's the primate team leader at Auckland Zoo and has been working with Madju since he was born.

"We do think that they know something's up, when you work with orangutans you start to think that they can read minds, because they know stuff before you even get in there and they read off you. So it only needs to be a very subtle change in body language or behaviour for them to kind of go 'hang on, what are you trying to do here, I'm not going to cooperate'."

The orangutans will be transported in specially made crates, with enough room to stretch out on the 12-hour journey.

They'll be held in quarantine in Los Angeles before continuing to Tampa in Florida.

Zoo keepers from both Auckland Zoo and their new home in Florida will travel with them, making sure they have familiar faces around them as they experience this once-in-a-lifetime event.

3 News