An Update On Sekali’s Baby: Meeting Dad, Tummy Time, & More!
July 20, 2022
Sekali Meeting Dad Budi For The First Time
At one-month-old, Toronto Zoo’s newest orangutan was becoming more alert to his surroundings, including making eye contact with the Wildlife Care team. Mom Sekali participated in regular training sessions and was comfortable bringing the baby up to Keepers and allowing them to use a dropper to place Vitamin D drops directly in his mouth. Once this behaviour was completely established, Keepers planned to introduce a baby bottle; this could be helpful in the future if they need to give the baby Pedialyte or medications in a liquid form, or if supplemental milk is required.
Sekali and Budi (the baby's father) started spending time at a mesh "howdy" door, which allows them to interact more closely without sharing the same space. Sekali seemed nervous at first, keeping her distance and a watchful eye on Budi, but after a few hours, she brought the baby right up for Budi to see. Keepers even observed Sekali moving the baby's hand towards Budi 🧡
Keepers continue to balance opportunities for all of Toronto’s orangutans to access the main habitat. As such, there is no set schedule to see Sekali and her baby: it is entirely dependent on which orangutans choose to go out on any given day, and it is thus a very dynamic situation. 🦧 They will keep everyone posted when a more consistent viewing schedule is available.
Voluntary Supplement Training With Sumatran Orangutan Sekali And Her Baby
Being prepared for any situation provides the best chance for success. This is why keepers have been working with Sekali to voluntarily participate in sessions where they practice bottle feeding her baby in case a situation emerges where the keepers need to assist Sekali with supplementation. 🦧
Toronto’s Wildlife Care team started working with Sekali while she was pregnant to present her ‘baby’ (the orange plastic toy seen below) and allow the team to supplement feed the baby should it be required after she gave birth. Since Sekali continues to nurse well, the team decided to shift their focus to working with her to administer Vitamin D drops to her baby by replacing the baby bottle in their sessions with a dropper. She initially was only presenting the baby’s head versus his mouth, but eventually, they were able to successfully administer the drops to his mouth!
The team will also continue to work with Sekali and the baby bottle (as you saw in the first video clip), allowing them to feed him if they need to. This is to ensure that they can assist in supplemental feeding in case she stops producing enough milk or she isn’t feeling well. It also allows Keepers to administer oral medication or rehydrate him should he ever become sick. Being prepared and having Sekali cooperate with these procedures ensure that the baby can remain with her and is less stressful if issues do arise in the future! 🦧
Sekali continues to take excellent care of her little one, and he appears to be more alert and mobile. Keepers are seeing the baby standing up while holding onto mom, and sitting up on his own now, so he is growing stronger each day Sekali is also a very comfortable and relaxed mother, including putting the baby down while she sticks close by.
Keepers are making progress with the baby bottle feeding training with him as preparation if it’s needed for any unforeseen circumstance. This is to ensure that they can assist in supplemental feeding in case she stops producing enough milk or she isn’t feeling well. They also are working with Sekali to put the baby in a 'baby box' where Keepers can retrieve the baby without contact from Sekali for everyone’s safety. This will allow Keepers to get a weight on the baby (they are currently weighing mom and baby together) or if we needed to do an examination or treatment with the baby if a concern arises. Most importantly, this process puts Sekali totally in control of what she feels comfortable doing. She hasn’t set him down yet in the box, but she’s currently putting the baby in the box but hovering him above the bottom.