The arrival of the critically endangered infant occurred a few months ahead of schedule.

By Meghan Overdeep
March 02, 2021
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Congratulations are in order for first-time orangutan mama, Reese!

Early Sunday morning, staff at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana, were welcomed by the arrival of a critically endangered Sumatran orangutan infant a few months ahead of schedule.

Audubon Zoo Orangutan Baby
Credit: Audubon Zoo

"We received the best kind of surprise this morning," Audubon Zoo's Curator of Primates, Liz Wilson, said in a news release. "It just goes to show that, despite all of the uncertainty in the world currently, life is carrying on as normal for our orangutans. It's really uplifting to see." 

According to the zoo, 12-year-old Reese and her baby appear to be doing well. Both are currently off-exhibit for monitoring and to give them time to bond.

Though Reese is a first-time mother, she reportedly has plenty of experience with infants. In addition to witnessing her mother give birth to her brother, Reese also saw Feliz, Audubon Zoo's orangutan matriarch, give birth to Bulan in 2019.

"Thus far, Reese is showing very positive signs of her maternal instincts kicking in," Audubon's Senior Veterinarian, Bob MacLean, said in a statement. "She is holding the infant close and tending to it well. We are continuing to monitor for signs of nursing and lactation." 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed Sumatran orangutans as "critically endangered." With fewer than 14,000 of these beautiful creatures living in the wild, maintaining a genetically diverse population is of the utmost importance.

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"To help orangutans in the wild, we recommend purchasing products with sustainably grown palm oil," Wilson added. "Around the world, those using sustainable practices in logging and agriculture are demonstrating that it is possible to conserve wildlife habitat while supporting the local economy."

Congrats to all!