Two Bornean Orangutan babies were born just three weeks apart at France’s La Palmyre Zoo. The two little ones are important additions to the zoo breeding program designed to help save this endangered species.
During the night of August 15, 18-year old Katja gave birth to a male named Hutan after a gestation period of 7.5 months. Because this was Katja’s first baby, zoo keepers were concerned that her lack of experience could cause Katja to improperly care for her baby. But Katja was mother-reared (as opposed to being hand-reared by humans) and observed many babies being raised in her family group, two factors that contribute to proper infant care. So far Katja is taking good care of Hutan and exhibits strong maternal skills.
Three weeks later, 39-year-old Tiba gave birth to her fifth baby, a female named Nanga. Tiba is an experienced mother. However, a few days after the birth, Tiba had to treated for an infection, which raised some concerns for her infant. Fortunately, the treatment was successful Tiba is now doing much better.
These infants are the zoo’s first since 2002 and are the result of a new male Orangutan named Barito, who arrived in 2014 to replace the resident male, who was unable to produce offspring.
Katja and Tiba are together but remain isolated from the rest of the group so they can build strong bonds with their babies. Orangutans have the longest childhood of any animal except humans – babies remain with their mothers for 8-12 years. Orangutans can live for more than 50 years.
Wild Bornean Orangutans face serious threats in the wild as rain forests are replaced by large palm oil plantations. Found only on the island of Borneo, these apes are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to massive habitat destruction.
La Palmyre Zoo supports the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project in Sabah, Borneo. Only 20% of Sabah's Orangutans live in protected areas, so there's an urgent need to conserve the remaining 80% who live in plantations, commercial forests or unallocated lands. This conservation work includes reconnecting isolated forest fragments through land acquisition, creation of corridors, and construction of artificial bridges; minimizing human/animal conflicts; and collaborating with forest loggers and plantation operators in order to promote a sustainable oil palm industry.
See more photos of the baby Orangutans below.