Baby Orangutan Makes a Dramatic Entry at Zoo Atlanta

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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 years. 

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 small size.

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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. 


Aurora, Houston Zoo's Orphaned Baby Orangutan, Gets a Mom


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.



Photo Credits: Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

Orange is In This Fall!


Los Angeles Zoo's little Bornean Orangutan baby is the star attraction these days. She's the second baby for mom Kalim, who is one of four adult females in their Red Ape Rainforest. Father to the new arrival is Minyak, one of two Orangutan males at the Zoo. 

Orangutans are native to the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.  In the Malay language orang means person and utan means forest.  Decked out in long, shaggy, orange-red hair, orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling mammals. Bornean orangutans are endangered and Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered.  In the last 60 years, it’s estimated that there has been more than a 50 percent decline in the orangutan population.  This decline is primarily attributed to habitat loss.

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Photo Credit: Tad Motoyama

Zoo"Born"ean Orangutan at L.A. Zoo!


Orange is everywhere to be found at the Los Angeles Zoo this Halloween season starting with the newest orange-red, shaggy haired addition to the Red Ape Rainforest – a newly born Bornean Orangutan. This is the second baby for the Zoo’s female Bornean Orangutan, Kalim. She is one of four adult females in the Red Ape Rainforest. Father to the new arrival is Minyak, one of  two orangutan males at the Zoo. Guests can see the baby Orangutan and her older sister Berani who was born in 2005.


Photo credits: Tad Motoyama


Orangutans are native to the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.  In the Malay language orang means person and utan means forest.  Decked out in long, shaggy, orange-red hair, orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling mammals. Bornean orangutans are endangered and Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered.  In the last 60 years, it’s estimated that there has been more than a 50 percent decline in the orangutan population.  This decline is primarily attributed to habitat loss.

Hand-rearing a Baby Orangutan at Sedgwick County Zoo

Baby orangutan clinging to keeper at Sedgwick County Zoo

It’s a boy! On May 19th, the Sedgwick County Zoo welcomed a baby Orangutan to mother Daisy. Unfortunately Daisy did not show much interest in caring for her newborn so the baby is now being raised by hand with round-the-clock keeper care. However, Zoo officials aren't giving up and are coaching Daisy on mothering behaviors in the hopes of returning the baby to her care soon. Zookeeper Devin Bailey explained, ”Being hand-raised might make the infant more people-oriented like his mother. Zookeepers want to make sure that this infant orangutan knows he’s an orangutan. Zookeepers are providing for the physical and psychological well-being of the orangutan instead of mom, for now. However, keepers are still working on maternal care behaviors with Daisy and are thinking positive. We believe we’re on the right track and hope that Daisy might show more interest in taking on some of her infant care responsibilities,” Bailey said. "Daisy is showing some progress. She’s interested. She’s not mean. But she’s just not sure if she should pick up this new arrival"

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Newborn Orangutan Doing Well With Keepers' Help


On Thursday, May 19 at approximately 6:30 a.m. Sedgwick County Zoo welcomed a baby Orangutan into the world. Baby is doing fine while mom, Daisy, is recovering nicely. However, she hasn’t shown much interest in being a mom or caring for her newborn. Zookeepers worked with Daisy to encourage an early bond with the newborn and continue working with her on maternal care behaviors. Daisy and the newborn Orangutan remain off exhibit so keepers can work with Daisy and care for the infant.



Photo credits: Sedgwick County Zoo

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Precious Primate Premieres at Dudley Zoo

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This little Bornean Orangutan, born six weeks ago, made her debut to the public late last week when mom Jazz brought her into the viewing area of the great ape house at Dudley Zoological Gardens. Jazz held her tiny baby close in her arms and could be seen patting Sprout's back as visitors looked on.

Sprout had been nurtured in a quiet, private area since her birth - until Thursday.  Keeper David Zebedee said of Jazz, ”She’s now doing the proud mum bit and showing Sprout to visitors."

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Sprout weighs approximately four pounds (1.81 kilos), but she’s growing fast. Once weaned (at approximately eight to 12 months), she can begin to add solids to her diet along with mothers milk, which she'll continue until she's three.

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Photo Credit courtesy of Dudley Zoological Gardens

David added, “She’s a beautiful baby, and very special too, as the species is so endangered in the wild.” Bornean orangutans only give birth every eight years, adding to the species endangerment caused by the pet trade and habitat loss due to logging and the palm oil business. Not long ago it was thought there was only one species of orangutan, but genetic research found that there are two - Bornean and Sumatran. Both live in Southeast Asia.

Remy the Orangutan Finds a Surrogate Mother


An infant ape who journeyed from Texas to be fostered by one of the nation’s best surrogate mothers is now beginning to explore his outdoor habitat. Remy, a 4-month-old male Sumatran Orangutan from the Fort Worth Zoo, is adjusting well and has been accepted by Madu, a 27-year-old Sumatran Orangutan at Zoo Atlanta. The infant, whose full name is Rembulan Wajah (Rembulan means “moon;” Wajah, “face,” in Indonesian) was born on November 26, 2010. His biological mother became very ill and was unable to care for Remy. Although she has since improved, she remains under close veterinary supervision. The Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP) identified Madu as the top candidate for surrogacy, as she has successfully reared two previous foster infants.

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Photo credits: Courtesy of Zoo Atlanta

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Holding a Baby Orangutan... for 24 Hours a Day

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On March 2nd, primate staff at the Houston Zoo were thrilled to discover that mother orangutan Kelly had given birth overnight. Unfortunately Kelly neglected her baby within the first 24 hours so Zoo staff were forced to intervene and care for the infant. Fortunately the baby is doing quite well and the Houston Zoo is optimistic that the one month old ape can be reunited with mom or introduced to a surrogate who will raise the baby as its own. Since infant orangutans cling to their mothers for their first few months of life, zoo staff currently carry the baby for 24 hours a day! Learn more on the Houston Zoo's blog and do not miss the video below.

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Photo credit © Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo and Video credit © Kara Masharani/Houston Zoo

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