Thursday, August 07, 2008

Newborn Orangutan At Lowry Park Zoo

dee dee newborn orangutanA newborn orangutan was welcomed into the world late afternoon Sunday, August 3, at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. Although this is the fourth baby for experienced mom "Dee Dee," it is her first to be born on exhibit.

"As a fourth-time mom, Dee Dee was clearly at ease with this birth, delivering quickly in her own way and time, which for her was outdoors," said Angela Belcher, assistant curator of primates. "Josie," another adult female orangutan, helped to clean the baby up after the birth.

The zoo's primate keepers have monitored Dee Dee and the newborn closely since birth. Dee Dee has been given access to the outdoor exhibit; however, keepers report that she has alternated between her den and outdoors with the infant, resting and nursing. The new baby has been named "RanDee" in honor of dad, "Rango" and mom Dee Dee.

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is currently home to five Bornean orangutans including dominant male Rango, the oldest living male Bornean orangutan in an AZA-accredited facility, adult female Josie with juvenile daughter "Hadiah," and Dee Dee with new baby RanDee. Previous offspring have relocated to other facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP)

Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, the longhaired red orangutan can be found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Orangutan (pronounced oran-gu-tan with no "g" on the end) is a Malay word that means "man of the forest." The species is considered endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction and the pet trade.

Like humans, Bornean orangutans have gestation periods of approximately nine months. A female becomes sexually mature at age six to seven and may only give birth once every six years.

Babies are born with a thin layer of red hair and cream-colored skin around the face and abdominal region, weighing only about 2-3 pounds. Orangutan offspring are dependent on their mothers for about seven to 10 years, staying close by for comfort long after they are weaned.

The new baby will ride on Dee Dee's chest and back for the first few years and will nurse for three to five years, on average. She will grow to be approximately 70-80 pounds. As one of the world's largest primates, the orangutan is second only to the gorilla in size.

"Dee Dee is a great mom, and very experienced," noted Belcher. "Although he won't help much with the infant at this stage, we are fortunate that Rango is a good father — very patient and tolerant of offspring."

The Bornean orangutans at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo are one of more than 40 species in the zoo's SSP, a cooperative breeding and conservation program managed by AZA to carefully maintain a healthy, self-sustaining captive population.

Lowry Park Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48). The Zoo is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on select nights during the summer. Parking is free. Visit or call (813) 935-8552 for more information.

Story here.

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