News Release

2-Week-Old Bornean Orangutan Infant Makes Public Debut at Brookfield Zoo

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org                                                                        
January 3, 2017
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Note: Images of the Bornean orangutan infant may be downloaded below.
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Photo Captions: 
7455, 6266, 6288, 7117, 7145, 7152: A female Bornean orangutan was born at Brookfield Zoo on December 20. She can be seen most mornings with her mom Sophia. The birth is significant to the accredited North American zoo population, but hopefully it will also help raise awareness about the threats facing orangutans in the wild. Orangutans, a critically endangered species, once lived in much of Southeast Asia, but their range and population have been dramatically reduced due to deforestation, the illegal pet trade, and poaching.

6988: A female Bornean orangutan was born at Brookfield Zoo on December 20. The inquisitive eyes of young orangutans Kecil (left) and Kekasih look at the new addition to the family, which can be seen most mornings in the zoo’s Tropic World: Asia habitat. Orangutans, a critically endangered species, once lived in much of Southeast Asia, but their range and population have been dramatically reduced due to deforestation, the illegal pet trade, and poaching.

2-Week-Old Bornean Orangutan Infant Makes Public Debut at Brookfield Zoo

     Brookfield, Ill.— A 2-week-old female Bornean orangutan born at Brookfield Zoo on December 20 made her official public debut today, January 3, at the zoo’s Tropic World: Asia habitat and can be seen on most mornings. Since her birth, the unnamed infant and her mother, Sophia, 35, have been bonding behind the scenes and being monitored by animal care staff to ensure that she is healthy and meeting crucial developmental milestones. This is Sophia’s sixth offspring and the fourth of Ben, the sire.

           
An infant orangutan’s reliance on its mother is longer than any other mammal. An infant may nurse from its mother for up to five years and stays close to her up to age 8. Because of this long dependency, there is approximately a six- to eight-year interval between births. A female remains with her mother into her teens, which gives the young orangutan the opportunity to observe her mother raise an infant and gain the knowledge she will need once she is ready to reproduce. This birth will be a great opportunity and experience for Sophia’s daughter Kekasih, 8, to watch her mother care for and raise a baby. Zoo guests will see the infant nursing and most likely sleeping for long periods. For about the next 10 months or so, the infant will continuously cling to Sophia. In addition, guests may observe Kekasih as well as Kecil, 3, who was adopted into their family last May, being very inquisitive toward the new addition. Although protective of her newborn, Sophia will allow the two an occasional touch.

“The birth is significant to the zoo population, but hopefully it will also help raise awareness about the threats facing orangutans in the wild,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the zoo. Orangutans, a critically endangered species, once lived in much of Southeast Asia, but their range and population have been dramatically reduced due to deforestation, the illegal pet trade, and poaching. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Bornean orangutan population has declined by more than 60 percent between 1950 and 2010, and a further 22 percent decrease is projected through 2025.

The Chicago Zoological Society is a participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative population management and conservation program for the species. The program manages the breeding of orangutans in zoos to maintain a healthy, self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. The pairing of Sophia and Ben was based on a recommendation by the Orangutan SSP. Currently, 94 Bornean orangutans and 87 Sumatran orangutans live in North American zoos.

Those interested in helping care for orangutans at Brookfield Zoo can adopt an orangutan through the Chicago Zoological Society’s Share the Care program. The $35 basic package includes a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph of an orangutan, a personalized adoption certificate, a fact sheet about the species, a Share the Care car decal, and an invitation to the 2017 Share the Care Evening. For further information, visit CZS.org/SharetheCare.
 

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit CZS.org.
 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

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