The baby was born at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, USA, on Christmas Eve (Picture: AP)
A critically endangered Sumatran orangutan has given birth to a healthy male baby at a zoo in the US.
The baby, which does not yet appear to have a name, was born at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans on Christmas Eve.
First-time mum Menari, 12, was pregnant with twins and gave birth to her first son with no issues, but started displaying problems afterwards.
A team of medics rushed to help her, including neonatology specialists who usually treat humans.
An ultrasound sadly showed the second baby was dead and the team managed to remove it without a caesarean section.
‘This is a bittersweet time for our team, but, given the very serious complications with the second infant, we are extremely happy that Menari and the surviving infant are together and doing well,’ said Audubon Zoo’s senior vet, Bob MacLean.
He added vets and specialists were very pleased with Menari’s recovery and her natural mothering instincts so far.
The baby was bottle-fed overnight while the new mum recovered from the birth.
The zoo said the baby orangutan is doing well so far (Picture: AP)
First-time mum Menari, 12, and her baby will stay behind the scenes for a while to allow them to bond (Picture: AP)
Mr MacLean said: ‘Menari immediately took the infant back Christmas morning, when offered to her, and she successfully began nursing.’
Menari and her baby will stay behind the scenes for a while to allow them to bond and so vets and keepers can care for them, the zoo said.
When the pregnancy was announced in October, the zoo said there was about a 1% chance of orangutan twins and warned this could be high risk.
They said they did not know the cause of death of the other baby, which had reached full term.
Mr MacLeon said: ‘The medical team on hand did indicate that the placenta appeared abnormal.
Fewer than 14,000 orangutans live in the wild (Picture: AP)
Females orangutans have the longest period between births of any mammals – around eight or nine years (Picture: AP)
‘We will be sending tissues for histopathology to glean more information, but those results will be many weeks to come.’
The new baby was sired by dad Jambi, who moved to New Orleans in 2018 from Hannover Zoo in Germany. He has sired two other babies at Audubon Zoo, but it may be six years or more before his next children.
Menari, who was hand-reared, learnt what to do after seeing her own mum Feliz, and foster-sister Reese, giving birth and raising babies over the last two years.
Menari and her half-sister Bulan often eat, sleep or forage together.
‘This recent experience with infants has helped to prepare Menari for motherhood,’ the zoo said.
Orangutans are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature after threats including hunting and destruction of trees where they live in forests and peat swamps.
Fewer than 14,000 of them live in the wild, and their numbers are reportedly continuing to decline as palm oil plantations spread into their habitats.
Sumatran orangutans are not weaned until they are about seven years old, and females are thought to have the longest period between births of any mammals – around eight or nine years.
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