Pongo the Orangutan just turned one year old just a few days ago, on January 10. He was born by Caesarian section at Zoo Atlanta and raised by a team of zoo keepers, volunteers and veterinarians while Blaze, the mother, recovered.
A first-time mom, Blaze fully recovered from the surgery but wasn't quite ready to take on the role of motherhood. Caregivers began a careful series of introductions, allowing mother and baby to see each other across a barrier (for safety). In the first two photos, Pongo is watching mom at an introdution session.
(We're doing a bit of a recap here, but see our previous stories on the birth and early reintroductions for even more photos!)
After two months of introductions, Blaze finally reached a curious hand out toward the little baby.
Reintroduction efforts continued daily. Pongo was taken to the orangutan building each morning for intros with Blaze, and each evening returned to a nursery to receive round-the-clock care and feeding from staff and volunteer caregivers. Meanwhile, he was growing steadily, gaining strength, and learning how to climb!
Photo credits: Zoo Atlanta / Adam K. Thompson (1-3, 11, 13, 15); Primate Team (4, 7, 11); Laura Mayo (5); Lynn Yakubinis (6, 8); Kate Leach (9, 10, 12); Max Block (14)
The United Kingdom's Twycross Zoo has announced the birth of an Orangutan! Born in the early hours of the morning on November 28, the newborn ape is happy, healthy and doing very well.
The new arrival is 36-year old Kibriah’s fourth offspring and yet another vital addition to the European Breeding Programme of this endangered great ape.
Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, head of life sciences at the zoo, says, “When keepers arrived in the morning they were delighted to find Kibriah had given birth overnight.
“Although Kibriah isn’t a first time mum, this is her first baby in 12 years, so we’re all very pleased with how well she’s doing. She’s very confident and relaxed with the infant, and enjoying plenty of rest! At the moment Dad [Batu, aged 24] hasn’t met the new arrival but it won’t be long before they’re introduced. Batu is a great father to Molly, our three year old Orangutan, so we expect the meeting to go very smoothly.”
Photo credit: Twycross Zoo
See video of the baby at 14 days old:
Female Orangutans generally give birth to a single infant after a gestation period of approximately eight and a half months. Female Bornean Orangutans reach maturity between 10 and 15 years old and reproduce every six to eight years on average.
Great Ape Team Leader, Simon Childs, adds, “We’re all very proud. Kibriah is a very loving mum and she’s doing such a great job. She is holding the baby very close so we won’t know if it’s a boy or a girl just yet. When we find out the sex, we can then start to think of a name for him or her. At this stage we don’t mind what sex it is, we’re just happy to have another healthy infant.”
“Molly is already a firm favorite with our visitors so we expect Kibriah’s newest arrival will too become very popular with visitors, and in time become a playmate for Molly.”
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has welcomed a crop of early summer babies. Among them is this Capybara, who was born on May 15, getting a nuzzle from mom. The Capybara hails from South America and is the largest rodent in the world. To aid them when in water, where they go for tender greens to eat and to beat the heat, they have webbed feet and thick fur -- and their eyes, ears, and nose are positioned high on their head, which they hold above the surface.
Just five days later, on May 20, this Brazilian Tapir was born. The Tapir uses its short, trunk-like nose to sniff its way through the forest, to pull leaves and shoots towards its mouth, and as a snorkel - they love water and are excellent swimmers.
And a Bornean Orangutan baby came into the world on April 11. In the wild, Orangutans are threatened by hunting, the pet trade, and the destruction of their rainforest habitat. Their forest home is rapidly being replaced by palm oil plantations due to a massive demand for this product in many of the foods we eat. You can help by looking at labels and switching to products that don't use palm oil.
Paignton Zoo's Orangutan mom Mali gave birth on May 11 to what keepers are 99% sure is a little girl. She is healthy and has bonded exceptionally well with Mom. Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “Mali and baby are doing well. They have the largest of our Orangutan islands and an off-exhibit den to themselves. We hope that visitors will be able to catch a glimpse of the youngster, which will become more mobile over the coming months."
The Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is threatened by hunting, the pet trade and the destruction of its rainforest habitat. That forest is being destroyed to create plantations producing palm oil, an ingredient found in an enormous amount of products people use daily Given the declining populations, measures such as switching to alternative oil products and maintaining sustainable populations of Orangutans in zoos are becoming ever more important. Everyone can help by reading labels at the grocery store to determine what products are made without palm oil.
Photo Credit: Photos 1, 2 4: Ray Wiltshire, Photo 3: Simon Maddock
Bornean Orangutans have suffered declines and the population is estimated at around 50,000. To put this in context, there are fewer Bornean Orangutans in the entire world than there are human beings in Torquay (the population of Torquay is about 62,000).
Niu-li, a Bornean Orangutan, was born on April 11, 2012, at Taipei Zoo. She is named after her mother, Xiang-niu. Her father, Eddie, living in a nearby enclosure often peeks at his mate and daughter. Mom Xiang-niu was very loving, and held her baby quite tenderly. However, she was not producing enough milk, which had caused unsuccessful nursing in her previous two babies. So, after two days of observation, the keepers decided to it was necessary to hand-rear Niu-li,.
Female Orangutans invest a lot of time in their offspring, taking care of them until they reach adolescence at around 6 years of age. Although Orangutans are similar to human beings, nursing a 3 pound (1.42 kg) baby is still not an easy task. Keepers had to feed her five times a day, one of which had to happen before dawn. “Fortunately, Niu-li is a well-behaved baby. She drinks 65 c.c. of milk promptly every time,” said one of the zoo keepers.
The word “orangutan” comes from Malay language and means “person of the forest.” They are omnivorous, but primarily eat fruits, which make up more than 60% of their total dietary intake. They will migrate depending on fruit availability.
Photo Credit: Taipei Zoo
Here's a video showing the baby's pictures and near the end, her first attempts at climbing:
Read about Niu-li's progress, and see more of her pictures, after the fold:
On the night of February 14, a female Sumatran Orangutan was born at Gladys Porter Zoo. Maya, the baby Orangutan, was born to Dodie, who is 35 years old. Although Dodie only has one arm, she has proven to be an excellent mother. She delivered naturally and immediately started to provide maternal care for baby Maya. And the two are quite playful with each other.
Sumatran Orangutans are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.There are only about 6,600 individuals estimated to live in the wild. Experts and statistics based on their population decline suggest that Orangutans could become the first Great Ape species to become extinct. The greatest threat that this species faces is habitat loss. The forests that are home to the Orangutans are being turned into palm oil plantations at an alarming rate. More than half of their habitat has been destroyed within the last 25 years.
Three generations of Sumatran Orangutans can be seen on exhibit at Gladys Porter Zoo. Suzie, Maya's 50 year old grandmother, Dodie, her mother; and baby Maya are currently on display.
Baby Sumatran Orangutan Tripa shares a close relationship with
his mom – in fact, Emma has rarely let her baby out of sight since his birth on
October 19 at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo.
Like all Orangutan infants, Tripa completely depends on his
mother for food, transportation, and lots of tender loving care. Orangutans have the longest childhood of all
animals other than humans, with young Orangutans spending up to eight years
with their mothers.
Photo Credits: Phil
Noble/Reuters, Peter Byrne/PA, Chester Zoo
Emma and Puluh, Tripa’s father, are part of the European
Endangered Species Programme, which coordinates breeding between zoos to
maintain genetic diversity in endangered species.
Conservationists estimate that there are fewer than 7,000 Sumatran
Orangutans remaining on the Indonesian island of Sumatra – the only place in
the entire world where this Orangutan subspecies exists.
Tremendous pressure from illegal logging, illegal palm oil plantations, and poaching
have driven wild Orangutan populations to the brink of extinction, making zoo
breeding programs essential to their survival.
This male baby Sumatran Orangutan was born on January 10 at Zoo Atlanta by Caesarian section, which is quite unusual -- it was one of only three to be performed on Sumatran Orangutans in recent years. You can read all about that HERE on ZooBorns. Mom Blaze has recovered and reintroduction of her baby has been a step-by-step process that has been going smoothly. The baby's activities in the Orangutan building have helped him to develop his motor functions and his senses. Every week he's more mobile, and today he weighed almost 6.4 pounds (2.90 kg)!
Due to the Caesarian, the baby could not stay with Mom until she healed. Keepers began working with the baby as a mother would, and in short order, they began reintroduction of the two via controlled interaction. Soon Blaze became very eager to see the baby and engaged in focused connection with him. She lay face to face looking at him for long periods and seemed fascinated by his hair, grooming him several times, touching his head and back repeatedly. Blaze gained confidence around him and began to gently pick him up, moving very slowly to place him in a pile of hay. At times she made cooing vocalizations and was playful with the baby. Perhaps one of the most tender moments was when Blaze reached out to hold her baby's hand!
Photo Credit: Zoo Atlanta
CLICK HERE to read regular updates on the baby's progress on the Zoo Atlanta website. It is quite a compelling story and a wonderful way to learn about this species, as well as tracking Mom and baby's progress.
A male Sumatran Orangutan infant
born at Zoo Atlanta on January 10 came into the world in an unusual way: he was delivered by Caesarean section with
the help of human obstetricians, neonatologists, and veterinary
anesthesiologists. This Caesarian
section is one of only three to be performed on Sumatran Orangutans in recent
Zoo Atlanta’s animal care staff
planned for this important delivery for months.
The baby’s 16-year-old mother, Blaze, is a small-bodied female, and she
had a previous infant who did not survive the birth process, possibly due to Blaze’s
Photo Credits: Zoo Atlanta
The Caesarian section was performed
by the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team in conjunction with a human obstetrical
team, a veterinary anesthesia team, and a human neonatal team (including a
respiratory therapist, nurse, and neonatal cardiac specialist), all from nearby
hospitals and universities.
"It was an exciting honor to be
included in this team of specialists to help Blaze give birth
successfully," said Sandy Jun, MD, of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "It was very rewarding to use our
human neonatal skills to deliver this orangutan newborn safely, and we were
glad to find that many of those skills translated seamlessly across species. It
is not something we will forget."
Blaze appears to be recovering
normally from the procedure, and her infant is currently in a nursery unit in
the care of the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team and primate care professionals. The
team hopes to reintroduce the infant to Blaze as soon as possible so that the
new mother may begin bonding with her newborn.
“We’re delighted that Blaze’s infant
has arrived safely, and that infant and mother seem to be doing well,” said
Raymond King, President and CEO. “We’re doubly grateful for the support and
participation of such a wide range of outside medical experts, all coming
together with our team to follow an extremely well-executed plan with a superb
level of professionalism and dedication.”
Blaze, who was trained to
participate in voluntary ultrasounds throughout her pregnancy, has been under round-the-clock
observation since her birth window began on January 2.
The infant’s father, 33-year-old
Benny, has been temporarily separated from Blaze but will be reunited with her
and his new offspring soon. Zoo Atlanta is home to the nation’s largest zoological
collection of Orangutans, now with 14 individuals.
Now believed to number fewer than 7,000
in the wild, Sumatran Orangutan populations have declined drastically in recent
years as a result of habitat conversion to palm oil plantations,
over-harvesting of timber, and human encroachment. Without targeted
conservation efforts, experts predict that the species could be extinct in the
wild within 10 years.
After months of tender loving care and sleepless nights, a team of 50 trained Houston Zoo care givers who have been hand-raising baby orangutan Aurora, achieved its ultimate goal – Aurora’s ‘adoption’ by the Zoo’s experienced surrogate orangutan mom Cheyenne.
Aurora was born on March 2 of 2011. After the first 12 hours, birth mom Kelly abandoned the infant and refused repeated attempts by zoo staff to return the baby to her. Concerned for Aurora’s welfare, the primate care team made the decision to hand rear the baby.
For 9 months, always in view of the Zoo’s other orangutans, a total 50 different volunteers assisted the Houston Zoo’s primate care team in that process. Aurora clung to her care givers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can see a remarkable video about that process in our ZooBorns article published last April. When Aurora was thriving and ready to move on, the care team closely monitored Kelly and Cheyenne to gauge their interest in the baby.
“As Aurora became more independent of her care givers, we taught her to go through what’s called a ‘creep door’, a very small opening in doors between rooms in the off-exhibit night house,” said Killam.
On December 28, the creep door between Cheyenne and Aurora was opened for the first time. “Aurora chose not to go completely through it, instead touching and playing with Cheyenne, who reached her arm through,” said Killam. The next day, Cheyenne chose not to play with Aurora through the creep door, but instead sat just outside it. She waited patiently until Aurora came through the on her own and then Cheyenne picked Aurora up and carried her across the room.
Cheyenne carried Aurora around for the next 7 hours, even allowing Aurora to ride on her head. The two shared produce and cereal and fruit juice together; the primate care team was able to give Aurora her bottles right next to Cheyenne. Several times Cheyenne would do somersaults around Aurora as the little orangutan watched in amazement. “It was a wonderful day,” said Killam.
The two can now be seen in the outdoor habitat together and all is well.