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The orang utan born at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in April has been named Tatau.

The name was chosen by visitors from a short-list drawn up by keeping staff. Tatau is a place in Sarawak from where the baby’s great grandmother Tjantike came. The female baby Bornean orang utan is now four months old.

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park Director of Operations and Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment said: “Mum and baby are doing well. It won’t be long before Tatau starts being a bit more adventurous. We are really pleased that Mali is doing such a great job raising Tatau and that in time she too will do her bit to ensure that her species survives into the next century and beyond.”

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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