TOPEKA ZOO (WIBW) – The Topeka Zoo's long awaited orangutan arrival has happened, and it's a boy!
At approximately 4:30 yesterday afternoon, Rudy, a 27-year-old Bornean Orangutan, gave birth to a baby boy. Both mother and baby are doing well. Dr. Shirley Llizo, Staff Veterinarian for the Topeka Zoo, says Rudy is acting like an experienced mother, calm and protective of the baby.
“The first 72 hours after a baby is born are the most critical,” Llizo said. “Every day the baby does well increases his chances of survival. So far, the baby is alert, has a strong grip on Rudy. He has also nursed several times since this morning. All these are positive signs.”
Zoo staff will be monitoring mom and baby around the clock for the next few days making sure that the baby’s care progresses normally. Also monitoring the situation is Rayma, Rudy and Mawas’ 7-year-old daughter. This is the first birth Rayma has witnessed.
“Watching the bonding between mother and baby is amazing,” Beckee Niemackl, the zoo’s primary orangutan keeper, said. “With Rayma being able to observe the maternal behaviors, we are confident that this experience will help her to be a good mother when the time comes. That is very important.”
There are 85 Bornean Orangutans in 24 North American zoos, representing a wild population that is ever threatened by deforestation. An estimated 1500 to 3500 Bornean Orangutans are left in the wild. “I hope that this baby will encourage people to become aware of what is happening in the natural habitat of wild orangutans and encourage people to learn what they can do to help,” Niemackl said.
This is the second offspring of Rudy and Mawas, the zoo’s male orangutan who is 24-years-old. “We are thrilled to be part of the Orangutan Species Survival Plan,” Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said. “This baby represents a strong program here and one that makes a difference not just to our community but to a world community that is striving to make a difference with this endangered species.”
Rudy, Rayma and the baby currently have access to their display at the zoo’s Discovering Apes facility and can be viewed from inside the Capital City Bank Treetop Conservation Center. “During the first few days the orangutans will have access to their exhibit and off exhibit holding areas,” Wiley said.
“We will let Rudy decide where she wants to be with her baby.”
As for the baby’s name, within the next 10 days the City of Topeka will announce its plan for engaging the community in naming its newest community member.