Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo started the new year with the birth of a rare Bornean Orangutan. The endangered, female primate was born in the early morning of January 6 to experienced mother Dee Dee, weighing in at an estimated three pounds.
There are fewer than 100 Bornean Orangutans in 24 AZA-accredited institutions in North America, making this birth very significant for the species and the Tampa community.
Dee Dee is quite the experienced mother, already giving birth four times successfully, and this is father Goyang’s third baby at the Zoo. In October, a human pregnancy test confirmed that Dee Dee was pregnant. The Zoo’s animal care team and veterinary staff worked closely with Dee Dee to voluntarily participate during ultrasounds.
“Dee Dee continues to do well with her female baby. As an experienced mother, she didn’t show any signs of any possible issues. We determined that Dee Dee’s baby had turned during one of her regular ultrasound exams,” said Dr. Ray Ball, VP of Medical Sciences at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “Careful monitoring and pre-natal care are important, but so is privacy. With veterinary medicine, the baby determines the day of birth, but the mom determines the time. With no signs of a high risk pregnancy, we let her take care of the labor naturally - she determined when it would be time to deliver her baby.”
The Zoo is currently home to a group of seven endangered Orangutans and participates in the Bornean Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP). The program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) protects wildlife species at risk of extinction. The baby will be the tenth Bornean Orangutan born at the Zoo.
“This is a significant birth for the entire critically endangered Bornean Orangutan population,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “It’s important to have the community along for this journey. We hope Dee Dee’s story inspires the public to become advocates for this incredible species and learn about the perils they face in the wild.”
Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) can be found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The species is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN due to critical habitat loss, increased use of palm oil, poaching and pet trade. The population declined more than 50 percent during the last 60 years.