Birth of two orangutans
La Palmyre Zoo has recorded the birth of two Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) only three weeks apart! We're announcing these births tardily because we wanted to ensure the health of the females and their babies, which can now be seen in the ape building.
During the night of August 15, 18-years old Katja, transferred to the zoo in 2011 following a recommendation from the orangutan EEP, gave birth to a male named Hutan after a gestation period of 7,5 months. There's always some concern with primiparous females (who give birth for the first time) as their lack of experience can sometimes prevent them from raising normally their babies. But Katja is very considerate of her baby and shows very good maternal skills: she was mother-reared and had seen lot of babies raised in her family group.
The zoo hadn't had any orangutan newborn since 2002, so it's a great satisfaction for the whole team and specially the keepers in charge of the apes.
3 weeks after Katja, Tiba (39 years-old and hosted by the zoo since 1978), gave birth to a female named Nanga. Tiba is an experienced mother (Nanga is her 5th infant). However, a few days after the birth, Tiba had to be anesthetized because of a puerperal infection. The intervention of the vet resolved her problem and she's now doing much better.
The father of the newborns is Barito, a 14-years old male transferred from Krefeld in July 2014, after our former male Sandaï left to Chile because he could never produce any offspring. The contact between Barito and our females went very well in a very short time. We quickly observed matings and less than a year after Barito's arrival, we recorded his first offsprings!
Katja and Tiba are together but remain isolated from the rest of the group in order to let them build strong bonds with their babies. The whole group should reunited very soon.
The situation of the species in the wild continues to deteriorate. Listed "endangered" on the IUCN Red List, it faces a massive destruction of its habitat which is replaced by large oil palm plantations throughout the species' geographical range.
La Palmyre Zoo has been supported the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project (Hutan) since 2002. Hutan protects orangutans in Sabah state in Borneo. The NGO highlighted that orangutans can adapt to secondary (exploited) forests and that individuals use palm oil plantations when they disperse. Only 20% of Sabah's orangutans live in protected areas, that's why there's an urgent need to conserve the remaining 80% who live in plantations, commercial forests or non unallocated lands. This conservation work includes reconnecting isolated forest fragments (land acquisition, creation of corridors, construction of artificial bridges...), minimizing human/animal conflicts and of course collaborating with forest loggers and plantation operators in order to promote a sustainable oil palm industry.