Photo by Tina Fess
A brand new baby orangutan! I can hardly believe it! For a keeper, this is definitely an event that is a dream come true.
Kumang, our 35-year-old Bornean orangutan, had her 4th baby, a girl, the morning of April 29. She has previously had two sons, Bandar and Datu, who have gone to other zoos. Her daughter, Dara, is still here at the Zoo.
This is an important event, not just for our Zoo, but for other zoos as well. Orangutans are a species that is critically endangered and the birth of such a valuable animal is one of the important missions of zoos that are involved in Species Survival Plans (SSP). Each SSP has a committee that meets each year in order to make recommendations for successful breeding pairs.
It all started when Denda, the father of Kumang’s baby, came here from Brookfield, Illinois in April of 2011. I was fortunate to be part of the team that made the trip to transport him here to our Zoo. When Kumang and Denda first met, it was pretty much love at first sight! Since that time, we had been doing of a lot of observing, tracking information, looking for signs of pregnancy and just letting nature take its course. Once we were able to determine that a pregnancy had occurred, the planning began to ensure a successful and safe birthing process.
Some of the things considered are exhibit space, bedding and nesting requirements, the histories of the animals involved and any health and welfare concerns. Once we were sure that we were well prepared, the waiting game began!
Everyone involved was put on alert when we knew the time was close. We have personnel on grounds at all times so we were able to monitor Kumang continuously. That is how we know that our newest addition arrived between 6 and 8 a.m. in the morning.
I am happy to say that mother and baby are doing well! Better yet, stop by the Zoo and visit our beautiful baby girl and the rest of our orangutan family so you can see and hear the latest news.
What an amazing and wonderful experience this has been, to be able to see and participate in such an incredible event from the very beginning! It is a privilege to be a part of it all!
- Linda Velasquez, zoologist