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.”
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.”
See and read more after the fold.
The safe arrival of the baby Orangutan has been cause for huge celebration amongst keepers and staff. This is the third species of endangered great ape born at the zoo within the past year. Lope, a baby Gorilla born on January 3, and Mokonzi, a baby bonobo born on February 19, are both thriving.
Orangutans in the wild face an uncertain future due to the deforestation of their natural habitat for the growth of palm oil plantations. Imcreasing demand for palm oil, the most important tropical vegetable oil in the global oils and fats industry, has caused oil palm production in Indonesia to expand from 600,000 hectares in 1985 to over 6 million hectares by 2007.
Dr. Macdonald went on to say, “The Bornean Orangutan is classified as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, with fewer than 50,000 individuals remaining in the wild. As they only give birth on average once every eight years their numbers are dwindling fast, as a result of the extreme rate at which forest habitat in Indonesia is being destroyed. Experts now agree that Orangutans are likely to be extinct in the wild within the next 20 years, so successful breeding is imperative if this ape is to continue to exist on this planet in the future.”