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The Indianapolis Zoo excitedly announced the first Orangutan birth for the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. The female Sumatran Orangutan was born March 23 to mom Sirih.

Sirih gave birth in a behind-the-scenes area. The other resident Orangutans at the Center watched the entire birth very intently and were quiet and curious during and after the delivery.

“This baby Orangutan gives us special reason to be joyful,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, Executive Vice President and Zoo director. “We are thrilled for the many visitors who will care more deeply for Orangutans and their conservation by watching the baby grow, learn and thrive. Sumatran Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild with only thousands left.”

The Zoo recently held a naming contest, via Facebook, and the winning name for the new girl is “Mila” (MEE-lah)! Mila means “dear one” in Indonesian.


3_13131090_10154853724712576_8102568991043503813_oPhoto Credit: Vicki Townsend

The baby is the second for 23-year-old mother Sirih, who arrived at the Indianpolis Zoo last year from the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany. Both mom and infant are doing great. Sirih is a caring and attentive mother, doing everything an Orangutan should do. She keeps her daughter close and guests are able to see Mila hold on tightly to mom as she climbs around the Orangutan Center. Father, 14-year-old Basan, has also been introduced to the baby, as have most of the Orangutans in the center.

Sirih and first-time father, Basan, were recommended as a breeding pair through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, a program ensuring a sustainable, genetically diverse and demographically varied AZA population.

The Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) is one of the two species of orangutans. They are found only on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, and are more rare than the Bornean Orangutan. Males grow to about 200 lbs. (90 kg), and females can weigh about 99 lbs. (45 kg). Compared to the Bornean species, they are thinner and have longer faces, and their hair is longer with a paler red color.

The Sumatran species also tends to be more frugivorous and especially insectivorous. Their preferred fruits include figs and jackfruits.

Female Orangutans reach sexual maturity at around 5 years of age and have a 22 to 30-day menstrual cycle. Females generally give birth to their first offspring at around 14 years of age, and they have a gestation period of about 9 months. There are usually eight years between pregnancies. Females do most of the caring and socializing of the young.

Sumatran Orangutans are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It’s estimated that less than 6,500 Sumatran Orangutans now remain in the wild, as a result of destruction of habitat for logging, wholesale conversion of forest to palm oil plantations, and fragmentation caused by roads and hunting.