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Paignton Zoo’s baby orang utan is a girl. Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “We are pretty sure it’s a girl. Keepers are 99.9% sure that the baby, now a month old, is female.” Mali gave birth on Thursday 11th April. “Mali and baby are doing well. They have the largest of the orang utan islands and an off show den to themselves. We hope that visitors will be able to catch a glimpse of the youngster, which will become more mobile over the coming months. Paignton Zoo volunteer Ray Wiltshire has taken some wonderful photos of mother and baby.” Bornean orang utans have suffered declines and 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. Paignton Zoo’s group of Bornean orang-utans is made up of male Demo (aged 14) and females Gambira (16), Chinta (22) and Mali (18). Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 01803 697500.

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