Posted: Thu 7th Sep 2023

First images of a rare newborn Bornean orangutan shared by Chester Zoo

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Sep 7th, 2023

Primate conservationists at Chester Zoo have shared the first images of a rare newborn Bornean orangutan.

Born after an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy in the early hours of Thursday, 31 August, the young one is the offspring of the devoted parents Sarikei and Willie.

This birth represents more than just a cause for celebration. As Mark Brayshaw, Head of Mammals at the zoo, puts it: “To have a new addition within the international conservation breeding programme that’s working to safeguard the species’ future is a hugely positive step in the right direction.”

While the gender of the baby remains unidentified, what’s clear is the significance of another healthy Bornean orangutan gracing our planet.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an authoritative figure on nature’s health, categorises Bornean orangutans as critically endangered.

This places them at the top of conservation priority lists, underscoring the importance of this birth for the species’ survival.

However, the euphoria surrounding the newborn’s arrival is juxtaposed with a grim reality. The lush rainforests of Borneo, the orangutans’ only habitat, are fast disappearing.

Mike Jordan, Animal & Plant Director at the zoo, elucidates on the gravity of the situation, highlighting that over 40% of Borneo’s rainforests have vanished since the turn of the millennium.

The culprits? Rampant deforestation for agriculture, logging, and unsustainable oil palm plantations.

These actions, combined with illegal hunting and conflict with farmers, have forced the species to the brink of extinction.

But Chester Zoo’s commitment to Bornean orangutan conservation stretches beyond its confines. For over two decades, they have partnered with HUTAN to shield wild orangutans in Borneo.

The zoo’s experts have delved deep into research, exploring how orangutans adjust to the sprawling oil palm plantations.

Initiatives, such as constructing ‘orangutan bridges’ to connect fragmented forest areas, aim to facilitate their safe movement.

In a bid to address the palm oil crisis, the zoo also spearheaded the creation of PalmOil Scan, a mobile app that informs consumers about companies championing sustainable palm oil sourcing.

In this critical juncture, every individual has a part to play. “Our hope,” Mike Jordan expresses, “is that Sarikei’s new baby helps us to further highlight how small, simple everyday choices can have a profound impact on the future of thousands of animals, including Bornean orangutans.”

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