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Chester Zoo Orangutan Surprises Keepers with Baby

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: October 7, 2020 10:20 pm

chester zoo orangutan birth

The Bornean orangutan infant being carried by mom

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo has celebrated the birth of a baby Bornean orangutan. Keepers were surprised by the birth as mother, Leia had tested negative during a pregnancy test conducted recently.

Chris Yarwood, Primate keeper at Chester Zoo said, “The pregnancy tests we had carried out on Leia in the months prior to the birth had actually returned negative results. It was therefore a wonderful surprise to arrive one morning to see her protectively cradling a beautiful new arrival.”

Orangutans have an eight and a half month pregnancy. Leia is said to be an attentive mother and her infant has been suckling well.

“Leia enjoys spending lots of time alone with her baby and has so far been quite shy about showing it off. She always keeps it really close to her and so we’ve not yet been able to clearly determine what the gender of the infant is. What we are sure of though is that the baby is bright, alert and suckling well from mum and has developed well over the last couple of months. This is Leia’s second baby – she’s a great mum and is doing a fab job once again,” added Yarwood.

chester zoo orangutan birth
chester zoo orangutan birth

The Bornean orangutan infant being carried by mom

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

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Bornean orangutans are listed as endangered in the wild by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They face threats such as illegal hunting, habitat destruction and their habitat being turned in to palm oil plantations.

As few as 55,000 Bornean orangutans may remain on the island of Borneo which is the only place where they can be found.

Dr Nick Davis, the zoo’s Deputy Curator of Mammals, added, “Bornean orangutans are the largest arboreal mammals in the world and how fast their numbers are plummeting is frightening. They are victims of illegal hunting and habitat loss and are highly threatened by the unsustainable oil palm industry, which is having a devastating effect on the forests where they live.”

“These magnificent animals are being pushed to the very edge of existence and it really could be the case that we soon lose them forever.”

chester zoo orangutan birth

The Bornean orangutan infant being carried by mom

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

This latest arrival is part of the European breeding program for this species. “It’s absolutely vital therefore that there’s a sustainable population of Bornean orangutans in the world’s progressive zoos – every addition to the European endangered species breeding programme is so, so important,” added Davis.

As well as their breeding projects Chester Zoo support orangutan conservation in the wild.

Learn more about the Bornean orangutan – Bornean Orangutan Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about Chester Zoo on their website – Chester Zoo

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