Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
The ABQ BioPark Zoo has a new resident with the birth of a baby male Sumatran orangutan born to 38-year-old mother Sarah.
The baby, who does not yet have a name, came as a pleasant surprise to keepers at the zoo, who discovered the newborn Sunday morning. They had been monitoring Sarah since March, when they announced her pregnancy.
“This is very exciting news for our orangutan group,” said Lynn Tupa, ABQ BioPark Zoo manager. “Sarah is an experienced mom, and the baby is doing well.”
This is the fifth offspring for Sarah, and her male companion Tonka, 42. Their other offspring include females, Pixel, born in 2014 and who was with Sarah when she gave birth over the weekend; Reese, born in 2008 and later transferred to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans; Tera, born in 1995, currently residing at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Indiana; and male Henry, born in 1991 and now living at the Cincinnati Zoo.
In addition to Sarah, Tonka, Pixel and the new baby, the zoo’s orangutan habitat is also home to an unrelated female, Rubi, 28.
Sarah’s most recent pregnancy, as well as the previous orangutan births and transfers from the BioPark Zoo, were all part of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan to promote healthy, genetically diverse populations in human care.
Orangutans are largely arboreal, although older members often spend time on the ground. Their lifespan in the wild is 30 to 40 years, but in captivity they can live well into their 50s, according to National Geographic. Their standing height is generally between 4 and 5 feet, and their weight can range from 75 pounds to 175 pounds or more, depending on gender, age, health and availability of food.
The World Wildlife Fund classifies Sumatran orangutans as “critically endangered,” with about 7,500 living in the wild.
The word “orangutan” in the Malay language means “man of the forest.” The primary threat to their existence is the loss of their native forest habitat through logging, and the accompanying loss of their native food sources.