Orang utan born at Paignton Zoo

Published: 15 April 2013

Orang utan born at Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is celebrating its first orang utan birth in 16 years.

Bornean orang utan Mali gave birth on Thursday 11th April. The last orang to be born at Paignton Zoo was female Gambira, on 22nd March 1997.

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park Director of Operations and Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment said: “We are absolutely thrilled that our years of patience have been rewarded and that Mali is proving to be an excellent and attentive mother. The babies are such enchanting and vulnerable looking creatures that you can’t help but want to do something to save orangs from extinction.”

Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “Mother and baby have access to the show dens in the Ape Centre but inevitably the baby is going to be difficult to spot at first. It should be more active and a great draw for the summer season.”

Bornean orang utans have suffered declines but the population is estimated at around 50,000. To put this in context, there are fewer Bornean orang utans in the entire world than there are human beings in Torquay (the population of Torquay is about 62,000).

The Bornean orang utan (Pongo pygmaeus) is threatened by hunting, the pet trade and the destruction of its rainforest habitat. Forest is being destroyed to create palm oil plantations. Given the declining populations, measures such as switching to alternative oil products and maintaining sustainable populations of orangs in zoos are becoming ever more important.

Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts are working to become palm-oil free sites. Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment is vice-coordinator of the orang-utan European Endangered species Programme, which coordinates the efforts of top European zoos to conserve the species.

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