The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is celebrating the birth of a rare, happy, and healthy baby female Sumatran orangutan.
The new arrival was born to an orangutan named Tara in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 22.
“We are thrilled with the outcome so far. Tara is doing everything she should to care for her baby,” said Mark Weldon the zoo curator.
Both the Zoo keepers and veterinary staff said that they expected the 19-year-old Tara to give birth between mid November and early December. They watched her closely with the use of a remote camera. When Tara began pacing late Friday night they expected it was due to labor pains. Tara’s labor only lasted a few hours, and she delivered her baby unassisted, reports ABC News.
As soon as the baby arrived, Tara cleaned her up, then lovingly placed her into her nest of wood wool and blankets. Zoo staff observed the baby nursing on Sunday morning.
A name has not been chosen for the new arrival yet. For the time being, mother and child are staying in a room adjacent to the orangutan exhibit.
The zoo announced Tara’s pregnancy back in October. Pregnancy for an orangutan lasts an average of 245 days. The father is the zoo’s 28-year-old male orangutan named Tengku. He arrived in the zoo in 1995, after being transferred from a zoo in Atlanta. The zoo’s staff is cautiously optimistic about the baby’s future. They have concerns because this is Tara’s first baby, and she has never seen an infant cared for. They worry she will not know how to properly care for her infant.
During Tara’s pregnancy, the staff used a plush toy to try and train Tara to bring her baby to zoo keepers to bottle-feed-it in case Tara failed to nurse.
“So far, none of these measures has been needed. Tara is proving to be a good mother,” Weldon said.
Breeding Tara with Tengku was recommended by the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that “seeks to maintain genetic diversity within populations of endangered animals.”
Tara came to live in the Fort Wayne zoo in 2013 from the Columbus Zoo. Eight orangutans have been born in United States Zoos in 2014, but all of them were Bornean orangutans, which is a totally different species of orangutan from the Sumatran orangutans. There are, however, two other pregnant Sumatran orangutans at other United States Zoo, but chances are neither will be born in 2014.
For now, the zoo’s fans can see the baby’s photos on the zoo’s Facebook page. Zoo guests will get the opportunity to see the new arrival when the zoo opens for the season on April 25.