Delight as Chester Zoo welcomes rare endangered baby orangutan
The precious youngster – a critically endangered Sumatran orangutan – has arrived to mum Emma, 34, after an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy. Papa Puluh is also 34 years old.
Primate experts at the zoo say they have yet to determine the sex of the newcomer, who has clung tightly to his mother since she entered the world on Saturday, June 19.
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 the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and face an extremely high risk of extinction.
The baby is the first of its kind to be born at the zoo since her group of Sumatran orangutans returned to their ‘monsoon forest’ home – nine months after the UK’s largest zoological building was restored to its former glory following a devastating fire in December 2019.
Chester Zoo is currently the only zoo in mainland Britain that cares for Sumatran orangutans.
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 impetus for 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 more awareness of the destruction of rainforests in Southeast Asia that is driving this magnificent species, and many others, to 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 palm plantations oil.
Palm oil is a very effective oil found in over 50 percent of the world’s supermarket products. As demand for unsustainable palm oil increases, orangutans are increasingly threatened with extinction.
A team of environmentalists from Chester Zoo are working in Indonesia, alongside sustainable palm oil farms and NGOs, to help prevent further deforestation.
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 ways and practices, ending the destruction of some of the planet’s most valuable ecosystems.