Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutan Is Pregnant with 'Extremely Rare' Twins

"There is only about a 1% chance of this happening," the Audubon Zoo's senior veterinarian said of their Sumatran orangutan Menari's pregnancy with twins

pregnant Sumatran orangutan
Photo: Audubon Zoo

The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans is preparing to welcome two new additions from a "critically endangered" species.

A 12-year-old Sumatran orangutan named Menari is pregnant for the first time, and she's expecting twins, thanks to a successful breeding match with the zoo's male orangutan Jambi. She's expected to give birth in December or January, according to a release.

"We are very excited about this pregnancy," said Bob MacLean, the Audubon Zoo's senior veterinarian, in a statement. "Twinning is extremely rare in orangutans — there is only about a 1% chance of this happening."

Although this is Menari's first pregnancy, she's seen her mother Feliz give birth to her half-sister Bulan in 2019, and she recently witnessed her adoptive sister Reese welcome her baby Madu earlier this year in February. Jambi also sired both of the baby apes.

Audubon's veterinary team has also been helping Menari prepare for birth and motherhood through daily training and enrichment sessions, which will hopefully get her used to having staff help her feed and care for the newborns.

Jambi's arrival at the Audubon Zoo in 2018 — after being transported from Hannover Zoo in Germany — has helped the zoo add genetic diversity to the Sumatran orangutan species, classified as "critically endangered" by the World Wildlife Federation. The current wild population sits around 14,000.

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"Around the world, those using sustainable practices in logging and agriculture are demonstrating that it is possible to conserve wildlife habitats while supporting the local economy," said Liz Wilson, Audubon's curator of primates. "We strongly recommend purchasing products with sustainably grown palm oil."

The last time the Audubon Zoo welcomed twin orangutans was in 1985, when Sarah gave birth to Bon Temps (a.k.a. Bonnie) and Lagniappe (a.k.a. Lana), who were both hand-raised at the zoo. Although Bonnie died in 2016 at Zoo Miami, Lana currently resides at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina.

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