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Zoo Excited for Pregnant Orangutan


Photo credit: Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Written by: Samantha WhitingOctober 16, 2014

The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo will be welcoming an orangutan baby in November or December, which will be the second orangutan to be born in Fort Wayne.

The orangutan is the offspring of Tara and Tengku and was recommended by the Species Survival Plan, or SSP, which is a cooperative committee of zoos throughout the country. The SSP requires that all zoos have a birth plan and, because Tara has never been in an environment with a baby, the zoo staff is training her how to properly care for her offspring.

The staff is preparing for all possible situations, including the cases in which Tara may choose not to nurse, or even reject her baby. The training is done using a stuffed animal that Tara can bring up to the cage and situate for the zoo keepers to either feed the baby a bottle or remove the baby from her arms. Staff is also working with other zoos to find a “foster mom” for the baby in the case of rejection.

A foster mom was utilized in 2006 when mother, Sayang, died from a blood clot less then an hour after her son, Dumati, was born.

“That was not on the top ten list of things we thought would go wrong.  It was very distressing to those who were there. The staff was grieving about the death of the mom, but instantly had to put an action plan in action to care for the baby,” the zoo’s Communications Director, Cheryl Piropato, said.

The zoo staff cared for Dumati twenty-four hours a day for the first eight months of his life before he was sent to live with his foster mother at a zoo in Atlanta.

“Zoos don’t produce as many babies as they used to. The spaces in our zoo and the other 227 accredited zoos in North America are limited, so you just can’t crank out litter after litter of tigers, lions, or even orangutans. So when we are able to have babies, that makes them all the more special,” Zoo Director, Jim Anderson, said.