Endangered orangutan gives birth at New Orleans zoo

Veterinary staff monitored the delivery of the Sumatran orangutan on Christmas Eve

A critically endangered Sumatran orangutan has birthed a healthy male infant at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. Photo courtesy Audubon Zoo
Photo courtesy Audubon Zoo

A critically endangered Sumatran orangutan has birthed a healthy male infant at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

The baby was born without issue on Christmas Eve to 12-year-old orangutan, Menari. Unfortunately, however, a twin male died in the womb, Audubon reports.

“This is a bittersweet time for our team, but, given the very serious complications with the second infant, we are extremely happy Menari and the surviving infant are together and doing well,” says the zoo’s senior veterinarian, Bob MacLean, DVM.

Reporting on the delivery, Audubon says Menari rested for several hours following the first twin’s birth, mothering the infant appropriately. She then had some periods of active labor and rest, but no apparent progression.

Due to concerns of dystocia, veterinary staff opted to assist the orangutan. A team of on-call medical professionals, including local OBGYN and neonatology specialists, were brought in for intervention.

After Menari was anesthetized, the team determined by ultrasound the second infant was badly positioned and deceased.

Twinning is extremely rare in orangutans, the zoo reports, adding there is only about a 1 percent chance of the high-risk occurrence.

“There are many risks associated with pregnancy, especially with first-time mothers, but our veterinary team and OBGYN specialists are very pleased with Menari’s recovery and her natural mothering instincts thus far,” Dr. MacLean says.

Presently, there are fewer than 14,000 Sumatran orangutans living in the wild, Audubon reports.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of this critically endangered species, and I am incredibly proud of our dedicated veterinarians and animal care team,” says Audubon Nature Institute president and CEO, Ron Forman. “The orangutan group at the zoo serves as ambassadors for their species, teaching guests about the plight of Sumatran orangutans in the wild due to human-wildlife conflict.”

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