NORFOLK — The Virginia Zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered orangutan – the first ever born there.
Dara gave birth before midnight on Friday (June 22). This is the first offspring for both 18-year-old Dara and her mate, 15-year-old, Solaris.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the news of our new orangutan baby,” said Greg Bockheim, the zoo’s executive director. “I’m proud of our Zoo Keepers and Vet Team who have been prepping, training and waiting for this moment for months, and now their hard work has paid off. It’s a big success to contribute this significant birth to the Zoo community and the critically endangered species as a whole,” Bockheim added.
Since Dara had her baby in her den, staff has decided to keep them indoors to let mom and baby bond without interruption.
The exact weight and sex of the baby have not yet been determined.
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The infant is completely dependent on the mother until they are at least 2 years old, typically nursing for several more years beyond that age, according to the zoo. Offspring tend to stay close to their mothers for up to 10 years or more.
With the newborn, the zoo has five orangutans: Dara and her baby, Solaris, 38-year-old female Pepper and 36-year-old male Schnitz.