Cradled in her mother’s arms, a two-week-old Sumatran orangutan made her debut in front of spectators at the San Diego Zoo Friday.
The furry mother, “Indah,” and her newborn daughter came out into public view at their Orangutan Trail exhibit – a rare sighting for spectators, San Diego Zoo officials said.
The baby – born on Oct. 25 – snuggled close and clung to her mother’s chest as Indah climbed the ropes, cargo nets and sway poles in their habitat. Periodically, the duo stopped at perches as zookeepers and visitors watched with delight, in awe of the shaggy, reddish-orange little primate.
Zookeepers said Indah’s doting demeanor is typical when it comes to her beloved daughter.
“Immediately after the baby was born, Indah cleaned the baby’s airways and inquisitively examined every inch of her,” said Tanya Howard, senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “Indah has been a very good mother, attentive to the newborn’s every need and like all new mothers, sleeping when she has the chance.”
With the birth of this baby – who has yet to be named – the zoo is now home to five orangutans, including the baby’s father, Satu, who shares the same habitat but takes no role in caring for the newborn, according to zoo officials.
Zoo officials said there have been a total of 38 orangutan births at the San Diego Zoo since 1928. In the wild, orangutans live in tropical and swamp forests on the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The Sumatran orangutan is considered critically endangered, with less than 7,000 remaining in the wild.
The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species, including the Sumatran orangutan, back from the brink of extinction through research and conservation efforts.
According to zookeepers, the baby orangutan’s next few months and years will be very eventful in terms of her development.
In the next few weeks, animal care staffers will watch for her to sit and begin using her hands. At around three months of age, she should start eating soft fruit while still nursing. Once she’s older and better and balancing, she will start riding piggyback on Indah so she get a better view of things happening around the habitat.
Zoo officials said orangutan youngsters enjoy the longest childhood of the great apes, typically staying with their mothers until they’re about eight years old.
For local animal lovers, hopefully this means more sweet sightings to come.
The appearance of both the baby and Indah was rather significant, according to zoo officials. This was only the second time since the baby’s birth that Indah has come into public view.
To catch a glimpse of the orangutans at any time, the public can check out the zoo’s Ape Cam.