Courtesy Mark RyanA baby orangutan born last month at the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota is reported to be doing well, and bonding with its mother. Births of captive animals aren't uncommon - the zoo has had fourteen surviving orangutan births in nearly fifty years - but this one is unusual because its delivery was by caesarian section, the first such delivery in the zoo's history.
The yet-unnamed male orangutan was born December 13, and placed in ICU where he was cared for by a medical team from both the Veterinary Medical Center and University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, Fairview. At first, things were a little hairy (tee hee) for the new baby, but zookeepers and the medical staff kept a close watch and helped the little guy pull through.
In the meantime, the baby's mother, a twenty year-old orangutan named Markisa, was brought back to the zoo so she could recover from her surgery.
Courtesy Mark RyanWhen time came for reuniting mother and child, doctors and zoo officials were uncertain if Markisa would take to her new offspring since she hadn’t birthed him in the conventional manner. But after a careful and methodical reintroduction process, Markisa has taken her motherly duties to heart.
Interestingly, the zoo’s dominant female orangutan, an ape named Joy, kept trying to sabotage the relationship by offering every object she had to Markisa in exchange for the new baby. But Markisa just wasn’t in the trading mood, and kept signaling “No deal!” Home-wrecker Joy, and her own eight-year-old son, Willy, have since been moved to Busch Gardens in Florida so Markisa and her baby can bond in peace.
About 200 orangutans (the name means “person of the forest”) are in exhibitions throughout the United States. The great apes are native to Sumatra and Borneo, but their populations have been dwindling in recent years due to deforestation of their environment by human endeavors and wild fires.
Courtesy Mark RyanWhen I read an update about mom and the baby, I went over to the Como Zoo to catch a glimpse of the little fellow. It wasn’t an easy task, as the exhibit lighting is kept low, and Markisa seems very protective of her new son, keeping him cradled closely to her breast. I managed to get a couple shots where you can at least tell he’s there.
On the other hand, Markisa’s recovery from the c-section is apparently coming along just fine. She moved around the exhibit rather effortlessly, and without any show of pain – as far as I could tell – holding her little one in her arms.
If you want further information about Markisa and her baby, check out the news page on the Como Zoo’s website. And if you want to do more than just read about the new baby, you can learn about sponsoring him here, or visit the Como Zoo to see him.