Baby orangutan debuts at Phila. Zoo

A baby orangutan made her debut at the Philadelphia Zoo.
November 12, 2009 3:32:47 PM PST
One day, she will grow up to be a great ape.

RELATED SLIDESHOW: Pictures of the baby orangutan

But, for now, the new addition to the Philadephia Zoo, a five-week old orangutan, is just fine with living in the warm clutches of her mom, Tua.

"Sumatran orangutans, in particular, are critically endangered, the population has really been hammered by deforestation, and best estimates are they're down to just a few thousand living in the wild," said Dr. Andy Baker of the Philadelphia Zoo.

The birth of a Sumatran Orangutan is exciting for that reason. It's also a proud moment for the Philadelphia Zoo, the scene of the nation's first orang captive birth.

This one was born to the latest pair to live at the PECO Primate Reserve: Tua, and father Sugi, who is being kept at bay just to be extra cautious.

The baby, at first, came out all fuzzy, and cuddly.. to a certain extent.

"They come out, they're fully furred, but they're all wrinkly just like we are when we first come out," said Tammy Schmidt of the Philadelphia Zoo. "All wrinkly and pale looking."

Like their human counterparts, baby orangs take a long time to become socially and nutrionally independent of their parents. This little one will probably spend another two months in the clutches of her mom.

It'll take another eight years to be completely on her own.

In other ways, the orangutan is very different from humans.

Consider what mom was up against:

"She didn't have the books to prepare her, she didn't have a lamaz coach, she didn't have the support group from all of the moms in the neighborhood," said Schmidt. "She's just kind of winging it, the whole way. It's built into her brain, and she's just doing it beautifully."

You can help name the littlest orangutan in town.

Your choices: Batu, Kadoa, and Anoano.

Go to the Philadelphia Zoo's website to submit your choice!

RELATED LINK: "Name the Orangutan" at The Philadelphia Zoo website.

The naming contest will go until November 26 and the winning name will be announced shortly thereafter.


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