Cleveland, OH

Bornean orangutan at Cleveland Metropa Zoo has given birth for first time in seven years

Angela Kervorkian-Wattle

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On April 28, 2021, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has successfully given birth to a baby male orangutan for the first time since 2014. The birth of this Bornean orangutan is also the fifth birth since the opening of The RainForest in 1992. In this joyous event, guests are given the chance to name the baby as they visit the mom and baby.

The naming campaign, which is held through online voting, will allow members of the general public to donate and support orangutan conservation in Borneo under a collaboration with the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Dr. Chris Kuhar said, “By helping to name the orangutan, we hope to inspire a closer connection and appreciation for orangutans and the critical threats the species face in the wild.”

Kera Wak the mother and her baby are being closely monitored by a team of zookeepers and veterinarians. At birth, baby Bornean orangutans usually weigh between 3 and 4.5 pounds. This is Kera's second successful offspring with sire, Tiram, after Merah's birth in October 2014. Like all mammal newborns, the newborn ape will be dependent on its mother for the first couple of years of its life.

The guests of the zoo are given the chance to see Kera and the baby and watch them closely in the behind-the-scenes area as they bond. The guests can also watch the habitat and daily life of orangutan, Kera and the baby, and Tiram, Kayla, and Merah in The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

After announcing the birth of the new male orangutan, Dr. Chris Kuhar stated that the baby will have an important role as an ambassador for the decreasing number of Bornean orangutans in the wild.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed Bornean orangutans as critically endangered. Due to the deforestation of the orangutans' habitat for agriculture uses such as unsustainable palm oil plantations, the population of orangutans has decreased drastically by more than 50 percent in the last 15 years.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has been in a long partnership with the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Program (KOCP) in supporting the Borneo orangutans. KOCP has been studying and protecting orangutans and their habitat in the Kinabatangan River Forest. Through the partnership, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has contributed more than $160,000 to support KOCP in any way. Money raised from the campaign will help contribute to the crucial support for the protection of orangutans in the wild.

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