Newborn Orangutan Arrives in Chester

Chester Zoo’s primate conservation team recently shared initial images of an exceptionally rare Bornean orangutan born to parents Willie and Sarikei.

The new arrival was born in the early hours of August 31, after a pregnancy of eight and a half months.

Alongside the first images, conservation experts at Chester stated that the rare baby represents a positive step towards protecting Bornean orangutans, which are a highly threatened species in the world today. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the primates as critically endangered, ranking them as among the species requiring the highest priority for conservation.

The baby orangutan will now join a continent-wide conservation breeding programme in Europe focused on bolstering the population of the threatened species in conservation zoos.

Severe habitat destruction in Borneo’s lush rainforests due to logging, agriculture, and unsustainable plantations to produce palm oil, combined with conflict with farmers and illegal hunting, have driven the species to the brink of extinction.

Head of Mammals for Chester Zoo, Mark Brayshaw, commented:

“The birth of an animal that’s so rare is always something to celebrate and seeing the new baby in the arms of mum Sarikei is incredibly special. She’s a great mum and has spent the first few days cradling her baby closely, feeding it regularly and building close bonds.”

As the newborn is only days old at present, the zoo has yet to identify the baby orangutan’s sex, however, Brayshaw stressed that the most important takeaway from the birth is that the planet now has one more healthy Bornean orangutan.

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