A critically endangered Bornean orangutan baby’s birth at a zoo has taken its keepers by surprise.
The Chester Zoo recently welcomed the endangered ape’s ‘wonderful’ arrival as a joyous and somewhat shocking event. The Bornean orangutan baby’s arrival took the zoo officials by surprise as multiple tests on its mother Leia failed to spot the pregnancy. They are also baffled because a typical orangutan’s pregnancy lasts about eight and a half months, so the pregnancy tests should have come positive.
Chester Zoo keeper Chris Yarwood in a statement said, “The pregnancy tests carried out on Leia in the months prior to the birth had actually returned with negative results.” It was a wonderful surprise for him to notice Leia “protectively cradling” her baby, he added.
The zoo was not fully prepared for the birth, however, its arrival on June 18 went smoothly.
Yarwood said it is uplifting to see the arrival of the new baby ape which shows that, “despite all the uncertainty in the world right now, life is carrying on as normal for the orangutans.”
“Leia took to her baby instantly and is very protective. She carries the kid everywhere and is really careful about showing her new bundle of joy too much, so we are unable to determine what the gender of the infant is,” Yarwood shared. This is Leia’s second baby and the gentle ape was “fab mother” the first time too, he added.
The Bornean orangutans have been listed as critically endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their natural habitat is threatened by illegal hunting and palm oil plantations. The ape is on the brink of extinction with an estimated 55,000 left on the island of Borneo in Indonesia, it’s the only place where they can be found.