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Audubon Zoo Providing Critical Care for Orangutan Infant

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: January 1, 2022 11:15 am

Audubon Zoo Orangutan Infant in Care

An endangered Sumatran orangutan infant is being cared for by keepers at Audubon Zoo with assistance from Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Photo Credit: Audubon Zoo

Audubon Zoo staff are providing round the clock care for an endangered Sumatran orangutan infant. The infant was born on December 24th 2021 to mother Menari. Originally a twin unfortunately the second infant did not survive.

Unfortunately on December 27th 2021 it was observed that the infant was weak and could not be seen nursing. Further concerns were raised based on a check of the infant's body temperature and weight.

Following these observations the orangutan care team stepped in and began to bottle feed the infant until it can be reunited with its mother.

Audubon Zoo Orangutan Infant in Care

An endangered Sumatran orangutan infant is being cared for by keepers at Audubon Zoo with assistance from Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Photo Credit: Audubon Zoo

“The infant’s care team also noticed that his suckling response was weak and inconsistent,” said Audubon’s Senior Veterinarian Bob MacLean. “Children’s Hospital New Orleans offered their support for the critically endangered infant by providing the expertise of a clinical speech pathologist and lactation specialists. The lactation specialists are working with the infant to assess his suckling reflex and train our team to stimulate the appropriate suckling response. So far, this has been very successful.”  

Children's Hospital New Orleans have also been able to analyze the infant's blood at the hospital providing faster results.

So far the results are indicating that the infant is suffering from hypothyroidism.

"Central hypothyroidism slows normal metabolic growth and is relatively rare, found in only 1 in 100,000 human infants," MacLean explained. "While we are waiting to validate results, we plan to administer medication to mitigate the condition as well as work with the Species Survival Plan veterinary advisor to prepare a plan for treatment should this prove problematic."

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The orangutans care team is hoping that they will be successful in reuniting the infant with its mother. Before this occurs he and his mother will need to reach a few key milestones.

These milestones include the infant establishing a consistent suckling and response and Menari having enough milk to sustain him. Experts from the Orangutan Species Survival Plan has indicated that it could take up to two weeks for her to develop full milk production

"We have high hopes that he will continue to improve under the 24/7 care of our dedicated primate team," said Audubon Zoo’s Vice President and General Curator Bob Lessnau. "We are so thankful for our expert team of consultants and for the community’s outpouring of support for this critically endangered infant."

Audubon Zoo will continue to provide updates on the infant through their social media.

Learn more about Sumatran Orangutans here – Sumatran Orangutan Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Audubon Zoo on their website – Audubon Zoo

Audubon Zoo Orangutan Infant in Care
Audubon Zoo Orangutan Infant in Care

An endangered Sumatran orangutan infant is being cared for by keepers at Audubon Zoo with assistance from Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Photo Credit: Audubon Zoo

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