Oregon Zoo Names Its Baby Orangutan After One of Dolly Parton's Most Famous Songs

The nearly 1-month-old Orangutan was named for her "flaming locks of auburn hair"

Photo: Courtesy Oregon Zoo

Dolly Parton is an inspiration to many around the world –– including the keepers at the Oregon Zoo in Portland who have named their new baby orangutan after the singer's big hit "Jolene."

According to zoo, Jolene the orangutan was named for her "flaming locks of auburn hair," which references the Patron's description of the sexy bank teller whose "beauty is beyond compare / with flaming locks of auburn hair."

Baby Jolene was born on April 13 to mother Kitra, the zoo's 20-year-old critically endangered Bornean orangutan. According to Kate Gilmer, who oversees the primate area, zookeepers were unable to determine the newborn's sex for weeks as they gave the mom and baby "plenty of room to bond."

"Once we confirmed she was a girl, our keeper team knew right away what they wanted to call her. They've been playing the song on repeat ever since!" Gilmer said in a release from the zoo.

The zoo revealed the baby's name on social media as well, posting a video of Jolene and her mom on Instagram. "After weeks of consideration, care staff have selected a name for Kitra's new baby. Meet Jolene!," the caption reads.

As the weather gets warmer in the area, the orangutan family is starting to explore their outdoor habitat more. The zoo says visitors should be able to catch a glimpse of baby Jolene and her mom on most days, though mom Kitra will be the one to make the final decision.

"Kitra can decide whether she and Jolene are up for a trip outside or if they'd rather have privacy," Gilmore said. "As Jolene gets older and more curious, we expect them to be outside more and more."

Jolene is the first baby born to Kitra –– who's been tackling motherhood head-on and hasn't needed much assistance from the zoo's staff, Gilmore said.

"We've never been so happy to put in hours of work on something that didn't happen," said Gilmore. "We were prepared to step in if Kitra needed us, but she's done everything perfectly on her own so far."

Kitra came to the Oregon Zoo in 2015 from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. She joined male orangutan Bob, the baby's father, who moved to the zoo from South Carolina's Greenville Zoo the year before.

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The Oregon Zoo excitedly announced the birth of baby Jolene last month. "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," Gilmore said in a press release at the time.

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

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