Como Zoo's new arrival on display

Markisa the orangutan and her new baby: Bonding nicely.
Markisa the orangutan and her new baby: Bonding nicely.Courtesy Mark Ryan
A 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.

Mother and child orangutan
Mother and child orangutanCourtesy Mark Ryan
When 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.

Orangutan motherhood: The world's toughest job.
Orangutan motherhood: The world's toughest job.Courtesy Mark Ryan
When 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.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Great Pictures

posted on Mon, 01/14/2008 - 4:49pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Primate enrichment activity
Primate enrichment activityCourtesy Art Oglesby
Baby orangutans are sure entertaining. I often would visit the primates Thursday mornings at opening. This is when a program called primate enrichment where activities intended to stimulate the primates are implemented. In this photo, Willy is getting into one of the sweatshirts placed in the orangutans cage.

posted on Tue, 01/15/2008 - 10:11am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I love that monkey!!!!!!

posted on Tue, 01/15/2008 - 11:31am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

I stopped by the zoo yesterday and couldn't find the baby orangutan, but there are twin baby Emperor Taramins that are cute as a button. But I didn't have a camera!

posted on Thu, 01/17/2008 - 3:36pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

Did you ask directions?

posted on Thu, 01/17/2008 - 3:40pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Gulp...I guess I wasn't too clear. I saw the a couple orangutans in their enclosure, but no signs of the baby.

posted on Thu, 01/17/2008 - 4:06pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

Goodness, I hope they didn't eat it.

posted on Thu, 01/17/2008 - 4:18pm
LEE's picture
LEE says:

The pictures are good. It's nice to know that they're both recovering and are in good health.

posted on Sat, 02/16/2008 - 5:53pm
tiffany_88's picture
tiffany_88 says:

It's incredible the born of the baby orangutan. In the summer I went to zoo and i saw its beatiful.

posted on Thu, 03/13/2008 - 9:27am
hawa's picture
hawa says:

Oh my GOD can people eat the animals?

posted on Tue, 03/25/2008 - 1:22pm
diamond2008's picture
diamond2008 says:

i've been to the zoo and i didn't see nothig

posted on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 10:05am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

k u'r only suppose to see animals

posted on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 10:32am
Pamela Trucking's picture

Aww... they are so cute. It makes me think that we are so lucky to have a world of such diversity and hope.

posted on Tue, 11/11/2008 - 1:25pm
Esmeralda's picture
Esmeralda says:

They look so cute on the pictures......
Seems that Markisa loves her baby!!!!!

posted on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 5:10pm

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