Adorable baby Sumatran Orangutan born at Chester Zoo for the first time
A critically endangered Sumatran orangutan has been born at Chester Zoo. Primate experts at the zoo say they have yet to determine the gender of the newcomer, who has clung tightly to his mother since she entered the world on Saturday, June 19.
The baby and his 34-year-old mum Emma are doing well.
Claire Parry, one of the zoo’s specialist primate keepers, said: “Sumatran orangutans are one of the most endangered large mammals in the world, so the safe arrival of a new baby is an incredibly special moment. Emma is an experienced mom and she has already made a very close bond with the little one – it’s wonderful to see her rock him so gently.
“The youngster is a vital boost to the international conservation breeding program, which strives to provide a safety net population for these critically endangered animals in the world’s most progressive zoos. Most importantly, we also hope that the baby will help us raise awareness of the destruction of rainforests in Southeast Asia that is driving this magnificent species, and many others, to extinction.
The baby is the first of its kind to be born at the zoo since his group of Sumatran orangutans returned to their monsoon forest home – nine months after the restoration of the UK’s largest zoological building at the following a fire in December 2019.
Chester Zoo is currently the only zoo in mainland Britain that cares for Sumatran orangutans.
The birth is celebrated by conservationists around the world, including in the species’ native Southeast Asia, where less than 14,000 great apes remain in the wild. Sumatran orangutans are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and face an extremely high risk of extinction.
The Sumatran orangutan is one of the world’s most endangered great apes; threatened by hunting, illegal logging and habitat loss as its rainforest is cleared to make way for oil palm plantations.
Palm oil is a very effective oil that can be found in over 50% of supermarket products around the world. As demand for unsustainable palm oil increases, orangutans are increasingly threatened with extinction.
Nick Davis, deputy curator of mammals at the zoo, added: “For many years our zoo teams have worked with palm oil suppliers in the UK, as well as with partners and NGOs in Indonesia, to encourage the cultivation of sustainable palm oil. . We want there to be no more deforestation, and where oil palm plantations already exist, we want them to include wildlife-safe corridors to allow animals to roam freely. With the help of our partners, we have also started reconnecting areas of rainforest by replanting native trees in the soil where they once stood.
“With palm oil being such a widely used product, the power of people is essential to turn the tide if we are to save these charismatic animals. Like most of the products we buy, if consumers demand certified sustainable alternatives, suppliers will quickly change their habits and practices, ending the destruction of some of the planet’s most valuable ecosystems.