Orangutan Batang and her infant in the Great Ape House at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Credit: Alex Reddy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo
For the first time in 25 years, primate staff at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are celebrating the birth of a male Bornean orangutan. He was born at 8:52 p.m. Sept. 12. Both 19 years old, female Batang and male Kyle bred in January following a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP). Primate staff have confirmed the newborn is a male. Animal care staff have observed Batang nursing the infant who has been clinging closely to his mother, and they are cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive. The Great Ape House will remain closed to provide Batang a quiet space to bond with her infant. (Click on image above for larger view)
Animal care staff believe that Batang had successfully conceived Feb. 2, based on a human pregnancy test. They confirmed pregnancy with a subsequent ultrasound. The Zoo announced Batang’s pregnancy June 14 through a Facebook Live broadcast of one of her ultrasounds. Over the past 12 weeks, the Zoo has provided weekly updates on Batang on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #OrangutanStory and will continue to share behind-the-scenes photos and videos as news breaks.
“Each and every birth of a critically endangered species is significant, but it is all the more exciting and this is a historic moment for our Smithsonian’s National Zoo,” said Meredith Bastian, curator of primates and member of the Orangutan SSP Steering Committee. “I am very proud of Batang and my team. Ever since we received the breeding recommendation, they have dedicated themselves to preparing Batang for motherhood. I look forward to watching the infant experience everything for the first time—especially meeting the other orangutans and going outside for the first time with Batang.”