The Virginia Zoo is celebrating their first Bornean Orangutan birth!
Mom, Dara, gave birth to her baby just before midnight on June 22, behind the scenes in her indoor den. This is the first offspring for both 18-year-old Dara and her 15-year-old mate, Solaris.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the news of our new orangutan baby,” said Greg Bockheim, the Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo. “I’m proud of our Zoo Keepers and Vet Team who have been prepping, training and waiting for this moment for months, and now their hard work has paid off. It’s a big success to contribute this significant birth to the Zoo community and the critically endangered species as a whole,” Bockheim added.
Since Dara had her baby in her den, staff has decided to keep them indoors to let mom and baby bond without interruption.
The exact weight and sex of the baby have not yet been determined. Staff will not intervene or separate the baby from Dara unless an issue arises where the baby needs assistance and veterinary attention.
“Dara is doing a great job caring for her newborn,” said Dr. Colleen Clabbers, the Zoo’s Veterinarian. “The pair spend their time nursing, resting and snuggling in their den,” Clabbers added.
An Orangutan infant is completely dependent on the mother until at least two years old, typically nursing for several more years beyond that age. Offspring tend to stay close to their mothers for up to 10 years or more.
With the newborn, the Zoo now has five Orangutans: Dara and her baby, Solaris, 38-year-old female Pepper and 36-year-old male Schnitz.
Tune into the Zoo’s social media accounts for updates and information regarding its name in the coming weeks.
The species originates in tropical and swamp forests in Asia, specifically on the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The origin of the word “Orangutan” is from Malay and Indonesian words, meaning “Person of the Forest.” These arboreal primates are relatively large and stand between 3 and 4.5 feet tall, and can weigh up to 220 pounds. They are widely known for their vibrant, orange-colored hair. Both Bornean and Sumatran Orangutans are classified by the IUCN as “Critically Endangered”.