The Indianapolis Zoo is excited to announce the first orangutan birth for the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. A Sumatran orangutan was born at 5:07pm on Wednesday, March 23. Mother, 23-year-old Sirih, and baby are both healthy. Sirih is doing everything an orangutan mom should do and baby has a tight grip. The newborn let out a strong and healthy cry right after being born. While the baby’s weight is not known, a normal newborn orangutan weight is around 3 to 4 pounds.
Sirih gave birth in a behind-the-scenes area and quickly, after the delivery, started cleaning and tending to her newborn. The other orangutans at the Center watched the entire birth very intently and were quiet and curious during and after the delivery.
“This baby orangutan gives us special reason to be joyful.” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, executive vice president and Zoo director. “We are thrilled for the many visitors who will care more deeply for orangutans and their conservation by watching the baby grow, learn and thrive. Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered in the wild with only thousands left.”
The Zoo’s community partner Indianapolis Power and Light will light up Monument Circle in orange lights Thursday morning at 4am, March 24 in celebration of the birth.
Orangutan mothers spend seven to ten years actively bringing up a baby. Sirih will model what life as an orangutan looks like for her baby, as the youngster learns to climb, build nests and interact with surroundings including the other apes, Keepers and Zoo visitors.
Sirih and first-time father, 14-year-old Basan, were recommended as a breeding pair through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, a program ensuring a sustainable, genetically diverse and demographically varied AZA population.
Orangutans are found in the wild only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, and these critically endangered great apes continue to face increasing threats, primarily habitat loss due to agricultural development for crops like palm oil. This new arrival is an ambassador for the species, and will engage and empower visitors to play a role in conservation efforts.
Indianapolis Zoo babies are presented by Hendricks Regional Health.
About the Indianapolis Zoo
The Indianapolis Zoo empowers people and communities, both locally and globally, to advance animal conservation. Located in White River State Park downtown, the Indianapolis Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Alliance of Museums as a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden. Visit IndianapolisZoo.com.