A new baby at the Sacramento Zoo in California is not only cute, but he’s important for worldwide conservation efforts.
“The Sacramento Zoo is thrilled to announce that a Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan has been born at the zoo — the first orangutan birth at the Sac Zoo since 1981,” the Sacramento Zoo wrote on Facebook. “With only 79 Sumatran orangutans in human care in the United States, and populations of wild orangutans rapidly declining, every birth is a monumental success for the species.”
Indah, the zoo’s 19-year-old female Sumatran orangutan, gave birth to a healthy male infant on May 1.
Critically, both mother and infant did well during his birth. Then, care staff began around-the-clock monitoring immediately after his birth to ensure the infant and his mother continued to do well.
“While Indah’s behavior was appropriate, the first-time mother was having difficulty nursing, and the team made the decision to intervene to provide the infant with supplemental care,” the Sacramento Zoo continued.
“Our decision to take the infant from Indah to offer care and feeding was done at a critical time for the infant based on intense staff observations and interaction with Indah and the infant in the early critical days, with an absolute focus on the health of the mother and infant,” said Matt McKim, director of animal care at the Sacramento Zoo, according to the Sacramento Bee.
A Special Type Of Orangutan
Orangutans, from the Malay words for “person of the forest,” are the largest arboreal primate.
There are three species of orangutans: Sumatran orangutans, Bornean orangutans, and Tapanuli orangutans. All three orangutan species are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered.
Sumatran orangutans are only found on the Island of Sumatra, which makes them especially vulnerable to habitat loss, the Sacramento Zoo explains. Indeed, their populations have steadily declined as Sumatran forests continue to be cut for timber and to accommodate increasing human populations in Indonesia.
Wild adult Sumatran females weigh between 80 and 120 pounds, while wild adult males weigh between 170 and 220 pounds. Animals in zoos tend to be 50–100 pounds heavier due to a consistent supply of high-quality food, according to Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.
Sumatran orangutans in the wild live about 30 years while those in captivity generally live around 50 years.
An Update On The Baby And Indah
First, importantly, Indah and her infant continue to be healthy. The Sacramento Zoo’s Animal Care and Veterinary Health teams continue around-the-clock care, monitoring, and future planning with the new infant, Indah, and the zoo’s other two orangutans.
“The baby has responded well to his initial time under the care of animal care and veterinary health staff, with increased strength, appetite, and weight,” Sacramento Zoo staff wrote in an update on Facebook. “Staff evaluated the situation and moved forward with a reintroduction of the infant and mother [earlier this week].”
Unfortunately, no nursing occurred, and Indah “continued past behavior of not displaying appropriate maternal behavior toward the infant.”
With that situation in mind, zoo staff again separated the two.
Indah is doing well and her post-parturition recovery remains positive, zoo staff noted.
Meanwhile, the baby orangutan continues to receive care and feedings from zoo staff within the orangutan house, in sight of Indah and often the zoo’s other orangutans: Father, Makan, and Cheli.
“The situation is, and will continue to be, fluid as we move forward,” the Sacramento Zoo notes.
“Our team is a wonderful, dedicated group, and will continue their tireless efforts to ensure Indah and her new infant are healthy and well moving forward. The overall goal remains to reunite Indah and the infant,” the Sacramento Zoo continues. “The timeline and options for this are evaluated daily. Thank you for your enthusiasm and support. We will continue to provide updates on this evolving story!”
Know Before You Go
The 14-acre Sacramento Zoo is located just south of downtown Sacramento. If you’d like to visit, zoo staff notes that mornings are best.
“Mornings are usually great times to see many animals, especially when it is hot!” The zoo staff explains. “Many are just starting their day like you, and are often active in the cooler morning times than in the hot Sacramento heat of summer.”
You can learn more about visiting the Sacramento Zoo at Plan Your Zoo Visit.
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