Critically Endangered Orangutan Gives Birth at Oregon Zoo: 'We're All Pretty Excited'

Kitra the 20-year-old orangutan is taking to motherhood well after giving birth to a baby ape at the Oregon Zoo

Photo: Courtesy Oregon Zoo

Kitra the orangutan is taking to motherhood fast.

On April 13, the critically endangered primate gave birth to her first baby, according to a news release from Kitra's home, the Oregon Zoo.

The zoo added that the 20-year-old Bornean orangutan and her newborn are doing well and staying behind the scenes to bond.

"We're all pretty excited about it," Kate Gilmore, who oversees the zoo's primate area, said in the release. "It's great to see Kitra taking such good care of her baby. There's still a lot that could happen, so we're being very cautious and giving her as much quiet time as possible. But so far she seems to be taking to motherhood quite well."

"She pulled the baby close to her right away, and the baby appears to be strong and healthy," senior keeper Asaba Mukobi added.

Kitra's caretakers worked with the ape throughout her pregnancy to help her get ready for motherhood. The keepers taught the orangutan mom how to hold and nurse her baby by giving her a stuffed animal for practice. Kitra also picked up mothering tips in the past by watching other orangutans around her care for their offspring.

The Oregon Zoo is taking a hand-off approach to providing care to the baby orangutan since Kitra is handling all her responsibilities well. Keepers have a close eye on the new mom if she or the baby requires assistance.

"We will be watching to assess their progress," Gilmore said. "The first few days are especially critical. Our care staff and veterinary team have been dedicated to giving Kitra everything she needed for a successful birth. Thankfully, she hasn't needed much help from us so far. She's been doing a great job by herself."

Because Kitra's caretakers are giving the primate space with her newborn, the sex of the baby ape is unknown. Once Kitra and her kid have had some time to relax and bond together, keepers will take a closer look at the family and start to determine when they will make their debut as a pair.

Orangutans are critically endangered because of habitat loss driven by logging and oil palm plantations. Orangutans are also targeted by hunters, who often capture young orangutans for the illegal pet trade, according to the zoo,

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