Friday, July 30, 2010

Denver Zoo Celebrates First Sumatran Orangutan In 25 Years

Hesty the orangutan
Hesty, the first newborn orangutan at the Denver Zoo in 25 years, is bonding with her mother after an anxious start, zoo officials said.

Zoo officials have taken extraordinary measures - including giving breast-feeding lessons to the baby - to help insure the odds of her survival.

Hesty, a female born June 19 to mother Nias and father Mias, is the first baby for the pair.

After her birth, zoo staff found that Hesty wasn't breast feeding. She became significantly dehydrated, was unable to maintain her body temperature and had a low blood sugar count, said Dr. Felicia Knightly, a zoo veterinarian.

Hesty was bottle-fed to ensure she got the nutrition she needed. Veterinarians watched Hesty closely 24 hours a day to make sure she was safe.

Staff had to sedate Nias to teach Hesty how to find her mother's nipple. An orange velcro vest, simulating Nias' body hair, was donned by zoo staff to help Hesty during her breast-feeding lessons.

Nias was also trained by staff who used a stuffed bear to show her how to put the baby in the right position to correctly nurse Hesty.

The training appears to be successful, as Hesty has begun nursing on her own, zoo officials said at a news conference today.

"We're watching her very closely and taking it day by day, but we're pleased with her progress so far," said Ronda Schwetz, a supervisor with the zoo.

Full story here.

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