Baby Orangutan Born at Toledo Zoo, Moving to Surrogate

Posted May 21st, 2014 by Andi Norman  Category: Community Interest


After months of dedicated but unsuccessful efforts to encourage his mother to care for him, a male orangutan baby born recently at the Toledo Zoo will be placed with a surrogate facility.

The baby, Kecil (pronounced Ka-cheel, which is Indonesian for little man) weighed 3.4 pounds when he was born on Jan. 11, 2014, compared to the 5.1-pound birth weight of the Zoo’s other male orangutan, Bajik, born in 2004.

Kecil’s mother is Yasmin, a female who arrived at the Zoo in early 2013. She came to the Zoo as part of a Species Survival Plan breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Although the Zoo has an excellent track record with successful orangutan and other primate births, and Yasmin has raised her own offspring in the past, she experienced a difficult delivery and has shown little interest in caring for this baby.

The Zoo’s keepers and veterinary team have worked tirelessly to offer Yasmin and the baby private, off-exhibit quarters in the hopes that they would bond. However, because Yasmin is not accepting the baby, Zoo staff has determined that it is in his best interest to be cared for by a surrogate mother at another facility. Surrogacy arrangements are in the process of being determined now.

Although this is not the optimal outcome the Zoo had hoped for, the animal care team is encouraged by Kecil’s overall good health which is a reflection of the Zoo’s round-the-clock care. This has included training Yasmin to allow him to nurse regularly, with staff assistance. He has more than doubled his birth weight, currently weighing 8.27 pounds.

“This baby’s well-being has been a priority since he was born, and we feel it is of utmost importance that he is raised by one of his own species,” Jeff Sailer, the Zoo’s executive director, said. “Every orangutan matters; this is an endangered species that could go extinct in the wild during this baby’s lifetime.”

The baby is not currently on exhibit, nor will he go on exhibit before departing for the surrogate facility. In addition to him and his mother, the Zoo is home to five other orangutans who are on exhibit at the Zoo’s Kingdom of the Apes.

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