The patients at Children’s Hospital New Orleans have spoken, and the votes are in. The female Sumatran orangutan infant born in February at Audubon Zoo has affectionately been named “Madu,” which means honey in Malay.
Audubon Zoo partnered with Children’s Hospital to name the newest member of its orangutan group. Staff and patients at the hospital voted for their favorite of a list of three names.
The three names included:
Madu - Malay word for honey
Bani – Indonesian word meaning “children”
Matahari - Malay word meaning sun
Children from the hospital exuberantly unveiled the winning name yesterday morning in a celebration at the Zoo. The event took place directly in front of the Sumatran orangutan habitat, so the orangutan group, including the infant and her mother, Reese, attended.
“Our patients had so much fun being invited to help name Audubon’s baby orangutan,” said President and CEO of Children’s Hospital New Orleans John R. Nickens IV. “Working together with our partners at Audubon, we love being able to bring enrichment opportunities to our patients at the hospital. This is a great example of finding creative ways to work together to deliver a little something extra for our patients and families. We’re so excited to watch the baby grow and thrive for many years to come.”
This infant is Reese’s first offspring and the second infant born at Audubon Zoo to dad Jambi since his arrival from Hanover Zoo in German in 2018. Jambi also fathered Bulan, the female born to orangutan matriarch Feliz in 2019.
“We were thrilled to have our long-time partners Children’s Hospital New Orleans help us make this big decision,” said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. “Throughout this last year, they have offered immense support that has been essential to the recovery of our attractions.”
Audubon is committed to helping create experiences that spark action and empower visitors to impact the natural world for the better. The orangutan group at the Zoo serves as ambassadors for their species, teaching guests about the plight of Sumatran orangutans in the wild due to human-wildlife conflict.
Maintaining a genetically diverse population in human care is important because Sumatran orangutans have been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “critically endangered” and therefore threatened with extinction—there are fewer than 14,000 living in the wild, and their numbers are declining, mainly due to human-wildlife conflict due to the spread of palm oil plantations into their forest habitat.
There are currently 95 Sumatran orangutans in human care across 27 Association of Zoos and Aquariums organizations.
To help orangutans in the wild, Audubon recommends purchasing products with sustainably grown palm oil. Around the world, those using sustainable practices in logging and agriculture are demonstrating that it is possible to conserve wildlife habitat while supporting the local economy.